By Carlena Knight
Owners of bars and clubs will have to wait a bit longer before they can reopen their doors.
Last week, a meeting had been set for a subcommittee and bar owners to map the way forward, but according to Information Minister Melford Nicholas that meeting had materialised and a timeline has not yet been determined for their reopening.
However, he added that it is the intention of Cabinet to deal with the process in the fastest possible time.
Nicholas said that there are a few areas that would give Cabinet concerns about allowing bars and clubs to reopen, the biggest being ensuring only fully vaccinated patrons are allowed in.
This matter, he said will be addressed through the production and distribution of the new vaccine cards.
“One of the areas that I am certain that is going to give us pause about opening the bars is that it is a level of mischievous behaviour that has taken place the last time we attempted to do that with respect to the vaccine cards. I am now happy to indicate to the public that we have increased the number of production of cards on a daily basis to what they were a few weeks ago. The ultimate aim is to get to a point where we produce up to a thousand cards,” Nicholas said.
Because of the vaccine card distribution, Nicholas mentioned that Cabinet will be requiring that only patrons with the new cards will be allowed to enter bars and clubs.
“When we get to a thousand cards it is likely we will for the purposes of enforcing additional mandates especially at the bars, only the plastic cards, the new ID cards will be permitted as proof of vaccination. So, it is likely that we are going to while we still need the original cards to form the basis of the ID cards to that extent, they will still be valid but in respect of public acceptance of proof of vaccination particularly when it comes to the bars, we are certainly going to be requiring to have these cards in order to enter bars when the time comes along,” he added.
This is the only sector that has not been allowed to reopen as gyms, cinemas and restaurants received the go ahead last week stipulating that only vaccinated patrons could enter.
Meanwhile, Nicholas also put restaurant owners who are not complying to the new policy on notice, that if they do not conform, they will be dealt with.
“I want to signal to those restaurants that you have a moment to check yourselves. I would have had an engagement with the Chief Health Inspector last evening and I would expect that over the next coming days that there will be sporadic inspections. There is no need for persons to be in violation. All that needs to happen is that caution is put in place to ensure that a simple procedure of asking person when they attend you place of business to provide their vaccination cards,” Nicholas mentioned.
Failure to comply with this new policy could result in restaurant owners or operators being fined $5,000 or sentenced to six months in prison or both.
Cabinet previously reported that a hotline for reporting unvaccinated people entering bars, clubs and restaurants will be established.