By Carlena Knight
The promoters of fetes and the Cabinet have agreed that testing for patrons before attending events will occur on the day before the scheduled event.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas made the disclosure earlier yesterday during the post-Cabinet Press Briefing.
Nicholas also provided details on who would absorb the testing costs as well as a number of other measures.
“The promoters came back and said that the day before a fete is most feasible and that was the original position of Cabinet, so we are in agreement. The other issue is the cost. The cost of the tests would be provided free of charge to the promoters and the patrons and that’s so far as the government’s contribution.
However, the promoters, according to Nicholas would have cover the cost for compensating the medical personnel to administer the tests.
Although Cabinet would have yielded to the approach of when testing would be done, there was no change to the limit set for how many persons would be allowed in.
According to the Cabinet notes, because of the ongoing threat posed by the Omicron variant they have decided to maintain an upper limit of 300 for approved fetes with a further restriction that only one event will be permitted on any given day. While for private parties that limit is at 25.
Back in November, promoters were given the green light to host events during the upcoming festive season after large-scale entertainment events have been on ice for almost two years due to the pandemic.
The events had been established as a staple on the local entertainment scene and are viable business opportunities for the promoters, but they had been banned since the start of the pandemic.
That is, of course, with the exception of July’s ‘First Fete’, an experimental event that saw fully vaccinated patrons being allowed to safely frolic in a “bubble environment” for the first time since last March.
Meanwhile, whereas bars, clubs and restaurants are concerned, a limit of 150 persons will be allowed in any of these entertainment spots during the period December 24, 2021 and January 7, 2022.
Nicholas said that the move was taken because of the Cabinet’s dissatisfaction with the level of screening being done at these businesses.
Because of this, there will be increased surveillance and requirements posed to these entertainment hubs.
“We had … a detailed discussion with the Police Commissioner and his deputy and the Central Board of Health head and the Ministry of Health in terms of enforcement of these regulations. We are going to strengthen the regulations to require bars, restaurants and clubs to submit their prescriptive treatment of the regulations to the Central Board of Health, which is to say that they will have to give a warrant that they have put these mechanisms in place in the coming days between now and the 24th to ensure that they are doing whatever is necessary to keep us all safe,” Nicholas said.
He is now cautioning the operators of those bars, clubs and restaurants that have not been complying with the specified requirements to get on board, or they will be penalised if they are caught contravening the regulations.
“If a business establishment flouts the regulations and they are caught, the penalties are going to be severe. Not only from the fines that would apply, but also they are likely to be faced with a period of temporary closure and that could really hurt their business. So, it would really would be penny wise and pound foolish to attempt to flout the regulations to attract more business or attract more revenue and then at the end of the day be faced with the risk of closure,” Nicholas warned.
The present requirements stipulate that entry into these facilities should only be permitted once an individual is fully vaccinated and has presented proof of vaccination.