The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development is collaborating with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that bar operators have the necessary permits required under law.
Speaking at a virtual press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday (May 26), Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said findings from a survey of more than 11,000 bars and taverns across the island have revealed that some of these establishments are operating without the requisite licences and permits.
“These include spirit licences, food handlers’ permits and trade licences. A protocol is being worked out between the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Justice to ensure that we work with these operators to comply fully,” the Minister added.
Mr. McKenzie said he is pleased with the level of compliance among bar operators in their coronavirus (COVID-19) operating protocols.
“More than 2,500 bars have been inspected since the Order was lifted (May 19), and we are seeing where there is general acceptance of the guidelines that we have laid out. These have been met, especially in the Corporate Area,” he said.
Community bars and taverns islandwide were ordered closed from March 28, as part of measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government instituted the two-week conditional reopening for community bars and taverns, following which an assessment will be done and a decision made on the continued operation of the facilities.
They have been given a number of conditions that have to be met in order to reopen. These include accommodating no more than five persons at a time, including the bartender; and maintaining physical distancing of six feet between each single-seating unit.
The Minister reported a compliance rate of more than 80 and 60 per cent, respectively, in each area.
In addition, there should be no stools, no benches, chairs or tables for people within the bar.
Mr. McKenzie said there has been a 70 per cent compliance rate of the use of face masks by bartenders, and the establishment of washing areas and sanitisation stations.
Additionally, he noted that the observation of curfew hours is “extremely high”, with more than 90 per cent compliance.
On the matter of group games, such as domino playing, the Minister said there has been general compliance in this area as well.
Playing of these games inside the bar or on the premises occupying the bar has been banned to facilitate social distancing.
The Minister urged greater compliance among gaming operators of the social distancing protocols. Poker boxes and other such gambling and gaming instruments must be placed at least six feet apart to ensure social and physical distance.
“We have asked gaming operations, in terms of where machines are placed, to ensure that social distancing can be practised. That is one area that we are not happy about, because we are only enjoying 30 per cent compliance in that area. Overall, we are seeing a positive response from the public on this matter,” Mr. McKenzie said.