While bars and clubs will remain closed, the Cabinet has agreed to allow the reopening of gyms from next Monday, April 26, once they have been assessed by the Chief Health Inspector and meet certain conditions.
The Cabinet Notes say that checks will have to be made on the country’s 20 registered gyms, and, once passed, their patrons will have to observe a number of strict measures.
First, clients must use the gym strictly by appointment. Then, “all patrons and operators are required to wear face masks throughout the time spent within the gyms,” which can be no more than one hour.
Operators, meanwhile, must ensure frequent sanitization of the machines and the places where customers most frequently touch.
Reportedly, these are self-imposed restrictions that the gym operators, themselves, presented to the Executive as pre-requisites for reopening.
One gym, the Antigua Athletic Club, gave formal notice of its permanent closure earlier this week, citing operational challenges brought on by the pandemic and the extended closure of the facility.
However, other sources have since alleged the Club was under financial pressure from the owners of the property, Cricket West Indies Ltd.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and the Cabinet will be reviewing the situation concerning bars and clubs.
Last weekend, Prime Minister Gaston Browne hinted that the vaccination of operators might be a requirement for bars to reopen.
He claimed that bars provide the ideal conditions for the spread of the COVID-19 virus – although this has not been supported by any concrete data, one bar worker has charged.
Browne’s claim was supported, again, by Minister of Information Melford Nicholas during today’s post-Cabinet press briefing.
Meanwhile, Nicholas says the number of new virus infections continues to decline, and reaching herd immunity could be one of the factorsthat determine whether bars and clubs are permitted to reopen.
Therefore, he is appealing to persons who wish to patronize these businesses to get vaccinated.
According to Nicholas, those who refuse to get vaccinated put the country’s economic recovery in danger.
The Notes say that Cabinet met with Chief Health Inspector Sharon Martin and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rhonda Sealy-Thomas yesterday, April 21, during its weekly sitting.
Reportedly, both women were asked “to provide advice on the further gradual opening of the economy and the loosening of restrictions.” Their guidance was sought to support the Government’s objective “of a lowering of the infection rate.”