An ease in COVID-19 restrictions to facilitate a revival of some business activity kicks in today, as restaurants will be allowed to accommodate in-house dining at 50 per cent capacity with persons in groups no larger than ten. Cinemas, meanwhile, will also be allowed to serve food.
While some concession has been made for restaurants and cinemas regarding food, restaurants cannot serve alcohol and bars remain unable to operate in-house activity for the near future.
By Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley's analysis, "alcohol has been shown to be one of the contributors to the results that we don't want where people consume alcohol, and it reduces their level of responsibilities. For now, we require a higher level of sustained responsibility."
But Dr Rowley and medical officials have provided no scientific data to back their claims that anyone who has a drink or two will automatically become irresponsible and disregard COVID protocols. GML has captured images of persons congregating at beaches without masks and often with bottle or glass in hand throwing caution to the wind. What makes them different? And where are the authorities required to ensure all Covid protocols are followed on our beaches? A real plan must be guided by data which must be made public. Such data would be important to guide actions being taken.
The vast majority of citizens can and do drink responsibility and we believe they can obey such guidance under a structured reopening plan.
However, those who are irresponsible and breach COVID regulations, whether in bars, restaurants, beaches or anywhere else, must feel the full brunt of the law. Too much is at stake.
It would be difficult not to understand and sympathise with the hardship being experienced in the bar sector. Over the last two weeks, Guardian Media has been highlighting the plight of business owners and workers suffering through this pandemic, uncertain of what the future holds for them and their families. With Christmas nearby, the agony and suffering are more tangible than ever.
We hope that in the coming weeks some consideration will be given to a reopening plan that can facilitate a reasonable resumption in more sectors on the brink if not already suffering closures.
There are some who felt the Prime Minister’s statement on Saturday showed a lack of understanding that there are thousands of people who totally depend on these sectors for their livelihoods.
By the PM's own admission some time ago, the country cannot afford to continue to pay salary relief grants indefinitely.
While many think it is big businesses that suffer most when they cannot operate as normal, it is those who can least afford it who are impacted the most. So while we agree that we cannot operate as though it is business as usual because COVID is still with us, those in authority cannot be blind to the fact that many are suffering because we still cannot devise a proper reopening plan which allows the worst impacted to return to a safe semblance of operation.