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By Latrishka Thomas

As Covid-19 restrictions continue to be relaxed in Antigua and Barbuda, businesses are finding ways to open up again – albeit with novel social distancing and safety measures in an effort to throttle the spread of the coronavirus.

Last week the government announced that, as of June 1, all businesses with approved safety protocols in place to prevent the resurgence of the coronavirus can resume operations.

For residents, it means a chance to get out and do things once considered mundane. And for struggling businesses, it’s a welcomed respite.

One such business is the Diamond Edge Nightclub, Bar and Restaurant. Its owner, Carlton Kentish, expressed his delight in being able to open, though on a smaller scale.

“Regarding my business returning to its full operation, that I cannot say at this time because of its nature as a nightclub but as for the bar and restaurant I have thought of some procedures such as the wearing of masks for both staff and customers, hand sanitiser on entry and around on the inside, maintaining constant cleaning of all areas on a regular basis, a limited amount of persons inside and mostly looking forward to be pushing more ordering and pickup,” Kentish shared.

He lamented, however, that “there will be reduced support and revenue streams because a lot of people are jobless; already we are in a devastating position with all festivities on hold.”

Douglas Compton, owner of Skullduggery Bar and Restaurant in English Harbour, said similar protocols will be enforced at his establishment.

“Our tables are going to be distanced, everybody at the bar is gonna be distanced, bartenders are going to be protected,” he told Observer.

Restaurant owner John Karlsson shared his hope that business will pick up with dining-in soon to be allowed again.

The Al Porto boss revealed that business has been quite slow and the company has had to cut back on its number of employees.

He explained that “the overhead cost we have for this restaurant is quite high and it is not covered by just take-away.”

And with regard to reopening, Karlsson said, “we have a quite safe environment here. We have a restaurant with 120 seats; we can easily practice social distancing.”

He added, “Customers seem happy that we can provide but it would be nice to have dine-in because a lot of people are tired of dining at home.”

As it relates to gyms, general manager of the Athletic Club, Gisele Maginley disclosed that “the gyms collectively got together and submitted a proposal to the ministry; they have approved it and we should find out on [today] exactly what items are a must.”

Nevertheless, Maginley said that the club has already begun putting measures in place.

“We have actually installed a sink for a handwashing station outside, so before you come in you have to wash your hands. You must be wearing a mask when you come in… we have actually put in extra hand pumps throughout the gym, washroom, classrooms and the café, and we have extra spray bottles to sanitise the machines before and after use,” she detailed, among other measures.

And with regards to social distancing she explained, “we will actually be closing off every other treadmill.”

Donny Roseau, owner of Jolly Harbour Gym, also disclosed some of his plans for reopening.

“What I see I can do to make things work to benefit my clients and myself is doing the gym by appointment. So you will have to make arrangements to use the gym before you actually show up.

“We will allow no more than four persons to train at a time and they’ll be able to train for a maximum of 50 minutes.”

Roseau added that the gym and equipment will also be sanitised before and after use and facemasks will not have to be worn during exercise since there will be adequate distance between individuals.

Though most businesses will be fully reopened in just a few days, the current 9pm to 5am curfew will remain in place.

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