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Nightclubs and Bars Allowed to be Reopened in the Coming Weeks Says Minister Bernard

Minister of Health, Kevin Bernard has given an in-depth explanation into the changes made in the Covid-19 regulations. Perhaps the most salient was the removal of the curfew and the mask wearing protocols. As we have reported, the curfew is now a thing of the past and masks are only required in confined spaces and not in open public spaces. There are additional changes reflected in the Statutory Instrument that Minister Bernard spoke of.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness: We have taken up the issue of gatherings. When I talk about gatherings now, we are talking about the allowance of concerts. The allowance of funeral services, the allowance of wakes, the allowance of other events: a ball, a gala, sports, all of these things are now up at 75% capacity so if you’re having a concert and an organiser is having a concert, they can now organise concerts but it, and if it’s indoor, they must be (1) 75% capacity and of course there are still the regulation, once an indoor activity the wearing of the mask must be adhered to. Bands used to always, the entertainers, the entertainment industry has been locked out for more than two years and so you know, Youth Connection, and Lucio and the New Generation, and Techno Band, and all these bands can now go out and play and have their events and so but with the guidelines that they follow the protocols of making sure that they’re within the 75% capacity, people are vaccinated in ever that, those who need to attend these events, and that they are adhering to the social distancing rules and have the necessary sanitising stations set out in these locations. In terms of spas, as you know spas and beauty salons and so, there were some restrictions on those that has been lifted completely. So those can now operate properly. The BPOs were at 50% capacity that has now been taken up to 75% capacity. Again, the restrictions in terms of the mask, the wearing of masks, you have to wear a mask in the public transportation so you cannot go on a bus and not having a mask. The requirement, you must wear a mask while travelling in public transportation. In a taxi, you must wear a mask because you’re amongst other people, especially those $1 taxis that pick up different persons. Unless you’re in a family vehicle, your own private vehicle then you don’t necessarily have to use the mask then. In terms of the public buildings, government buildings, that remains. You must wear your mask within the public, so even at the National Assembly, we must wear our masks inside the National Assembly while some of the barriers will be removed, members of the National Assembly still must wear their masks within the National Assembly because we are indoor.”

According to Minister Bernard, the government is working towards a full reopening of the country by April 1, 2022. This would mean that within the coming weeks, the night clubs and bars will be allowed to reopen.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness: “One of the things that we’ll keep, we will still keep is the issue of the, currently, the issue of the bars and nightclubs. Those will remain closed for the time being. We are looking, however, at the, when we look at the April month and start to, as you know the Prime Minister in his message, Cabinet made a decision that for the month of March, we’re going to ease these restrictions but working slowly towards lifting all other restrictions that exist within the SI. So we are going to look at that, but there are certain things that I believe will still remain. The need for vaccinated persons to travel outside the country, the need for vaccinated persons only to participate in concerts and all of these sports and so forth cause we have to encourage people to get vaccinated and so for now, the bars and the rum shops remain closed. One of the things Rene is that we have to ensure that one, the responsibility is placed also on the owners of those establishments. If you want to have a concert, for example, you are the organiser, you’ll need to make sure that those who are coming to your event are fully vaccinated. They are practising, that you have your setting set out, that you’re going to ensure that there is the policy being applied there, the protocols being applied in terms of the distancing within the space but at the same time, the onus and the responsibility lies on the individual. We need to, we personally need to be responsible enough for ourselves. Personally me, I won’t go to a concert, not at this time, that’s my opinion, but there are those who want to. There are those who want to go to a nightclub at some point, whenever that happens, whenever we allow that. But you have to be responsible for your own actions and so whenever we make those changes, there will still have to be some guidelines so in terms of enforcement, we need to ensure that the police is assisting so in any event, you have these open gatherings, police must be present. We are going to be looking at the ministry in, I know that the COVID Enforcement Unit needs to be strengthened. We may need to look at how we can work closely with the police to see how we can strengthen their responsibility so the use of the Justice of the Peace which is also part of the SI, that remains so we have to look at all of that aspect when it comes to enforcement. But can we expect the police, the COVID enforcers and the JP to look over every individual 100%? No that can’t happen sot is the responsibility of the individual to abide by the rules and the regulations set out in the SI.”

These regulations took effect today.