By Orville Williams
Live music could return as a feature in bars and restaurants across the country, following another discussion between the bar operators, health and government officials.
The decision to prohibit the playing of live music in these environments was reached after an initial consultation between the aforementioned groups, and prior to the bar operators being given the green light to resume business.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas reminded these business operators of that decision yesterday, after some had been raising concerns of a double standard – with resorts allowed to play live music as per usual.
“When we had the initial consultation with the bar operators, this was an issue that came up, and as a part of the self-regulation it was something that was discussed, that music – in terms of loud music [or] party music – would not be done in the initial phase.
“So, it is not really a fair assessment to say that the Ministry of Health, through the Chief Health Inspector, was doing anything untoward. This was discussed and agreed to by the parties at that time,” Nicholas said.
In a nod to his earlier statement on the administration being flexible with regard to the new protocols, the Information Minister invited these operators to request another consultation, through which the matter can be further discussed and possibly rectified.
“If there is a requirement for any amelioration or relaxation of that particular restriction, then I think that the thing to do is to call for another engagement and I am certainly available.
“I’m sure the Minister of Health is available, as well as Minister Matthew who was a part of that [initial] consultation. We did have a wide, open consultation with them – not every bar owner and operator in Antigua did attend, but some 30-odd of them did attend – and I would say that that is the forum by which we can reconvene and look at it again.” Bars and clubs were allowed to reopen last month after stricter Covid-19 protocols were put in place, including the need for all owners and employees to be vaccinated.