By Elesha George
Retail businesses have been added to the list of workplaces permitted to operate under the current state of emergency.
During the latest meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, it was decided that restrictions on such businesses would be relaxed beginning from 6 am today. Information Minister Melford Nicholas said that these businesses will be allowed to open until 6 pm each day.
He said, “As much as possible, we would still want the businesses to take on board the responsibility of ensuring that they are helping to maintain social distancing both between the employees and the clients who they are required to serve”.
The Cabinet is also encouraging businesses to offer curbside pickup and delivery services to reduce the need for people to congregate and cluster.
The goodwill measure, however, excludes the opening of beauty salons, barbershops, spas and gymnasiums.
Nicholas cited that “The level of intimacy that is required in the provision of these services still gives the Ministry of Health some pause and some concern”.
He has, however, promised a weekly review of those businesses and said once Cabinet is satisfied that there is little to no latitude for Covid-19 to spread, allowances will be made.
Meanwhile, beaches will be conditionally open to the public as from Tuesday, May 5. Residents will be permitted to go to beaches between 6 am and 6 pm but only on weekdays. Beach activities are not permitted on weekends or public holidays.
The Minister made it clear that the reopening of beaches “is not to facilitate picnic goers”.
“It is allowed for the purposes of exercise and therapy and for other forms of relaxation,” he said. The relaxation measures, he stressed, does not extend to picnics and beach parties.
Nicholas explained that the police and the Ministry of Tourism have been asked to monitor activities on beaches across the island by placing beach security staff on duty. The Cabinet believes that this will prevent abuse of the relaxation measures.