By Orville Williams
The operators of bars and nightclubs across the country have been made to wait yet another week to find out what their immediate future holds, as the meeting to discuss the parameters of the sector reopening was again postponed.
That meeting was initially meant to take place several weeks ago and Information Minister Melford Nicholas disclosed that the reason for this latest postponement was the unavoidable absence of Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph.
He assured, however, that the meeting will go ahead next week.
“We have made a determination that that meeting should go ahead under the stewardship of the Chief Medical Officer next week, so we will have that [planned] engagement with the bar owners and operators.”
The bars, along with nightclubs and gyms, were ordered closed about two months ago when Covid infections started to tick upward and remained that way as the country faced a full-on outbreak soon after.
The current epidemiological conditions are significantly better, with just under 300 active infections at the time of writing, and the government has repeatedly pointed to the likelihood of reduced restrictions as more people continue to get vaccinated.
More vaccination mandates are gradually being implemented, which means it is only a matter of time before the ‘green light’ is given to those businesses that have been closed for so long.
When they get the green light, Nicholas warned, great emphasis will be placed on ensuring total compliance with the rules to be determined, to avoid any possible Covid spread.
“Clearly, one of the underlying issues for us has to do with the enforcement of the regulations and we want to make it abundantly clear that we’re getting into the height of the tourist season.
“We are anticipating that, with the influx of additional persons into the [country], we have to be extremely careful that we are not going to be in a position to initiate a new wave of infections.
“Even though our strategy has moved to living with Covid and we want to ensure that the optimal number of persons are vaccinated within the [country], it is still necessary for us to remain cautious and to keep these numbers down”, he explained.
The minister also reminded that the government is aware and concerned about incidents in the recent past where persons have attempted to produce fraudulent vaccination cards.
As a result, he advised that only the newly-designed cards will be acceptable for entry into the aforementioned establishments upon their reopening.