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By Theresa Goodwin

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Health officials have reassessed more than 40 restaurants and bars across Antigua to determine how many customers each establishment can safely accommodate to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Chief Health Inspector Sharon Martin said yesterday that certificates will be re-issued to these businesses clearly specifying the number of persons that can be seated on the premises at any given time.

She was speaking just five days after Cabinet announced strict new maximum numbers for all bars and restaurants amid concerns that too many were allowing over-crowding.

Businesses which violate the limit face forced closure, she said.

“We have been going around and measuring the places where chairs are placed because everybody has to be seated,” Martin told Observer.

“We do not want anyone standing around because this encourages movement. Each patron must be seated and when they are ready to place an order, they will then have to signal a waiter or waitress who will process the order and take it to them.

“If we measure your business and you can accommodate 25 people, and if you have more than that when the police come you will be in trouble,” she said.

Meanwhile, the implementation of maximum numbers has been welcomed by at least one business owner.

Valerie Hodge, of the popular tourist spot Shirley Heights Lookout, recently called for health authorities to formally adjust the guidelines for restaurants.

She said previous confusion had forced her to cancel scheduled bookings. On Monday, Hodge told Observer radio listeners she was pleased with the response from government officials to make amendments based on the size of each property.

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