Cabinet relaxes several restrictions, including on restaurants and gyms, on account of population being 60% vaccinated

At its weekly sitting on October 6, the Cabinet opted to allow restaurants, gyms and cinemas to recommence their usual business activities at the end of the current two-week period of restrictions, at which time the hours of curfew will be reduced. 

Restaurants, which have been limited to serving take-out orders for nearly six weeks, will then be allowed to resume in-house dining services.

While gyms will be allowed to reopen their doors, only vaccinated operators and members may use the facilities.  The Administration says it expects operators “to rely upon the show of vaccination cards by their patrons – either the temporary or permanent cards – to gain entry,” this week’s Cabinet Notes say.

The COVID-19 protocols established by the Central Board of Health must be observed, and the number of persons using the gyms may not exceed the number that was agreed upon earlier.

These businesses are warned that they face stiff financial penalties if inspectors discover unvaccinated patrons and operators present in the gym. 

During next Wednesday’s sitting, the Executive says, it will review the closure of bars and determine when they can reopen and under what conditions.

It was noted that bar operators and their patrons must be fully vaccinated, which was a prerequisite before they closed about five weeks ago.

Establishments that contravene this regulation and allow unvaccinated persons to enter will face penalties of $5,000 for the bar owner and $1,000 for the patron.

Meanwhile, the Central Board of Health (CBH) will be strengthening its enforcement capability by adding six new inspectors to its complement.  These persons will be selected from the work programme and trained. 

Interestingly, while the Cabinet Notes speak to the reopening of casinos, REAL News could find no announcement of their closing; and it appears their operations remained open during the three lockdowns of entertainment spots. 

The reopening of these establishments coincides with the implementation of the new curfew hours on Friday, October 15.

In the meantime, justifying its decision to ease many of the current restrictions, the Cabinet says that more than 60% of the targeted population has been vaccinated. The goal is 80,000 citizens and residents.

This statistic affords the Cabinet the comfort of  relaxing some of the restrictions that have governed the past months.

However, critics point out that the COVID-19 cases are still significant; and with more than 1,100 confirmed infections, the numbers are now much higher than when then the Executive closed gathering spots and lengthened the curfew hours.  

Further, with scores of people set to be released from quarantine without testing, they say the Cabinet is making economic – and not public-safety – decisions. 

On the other hand, the Cabinet has confirmed a further delay with regard to the reopening of primary schools.

A decision has been taken to postpone the reopening by an additional two weeks, while secondary schools may resume – strictly with vaccinated students ,teachers and ancillary staff, the Executive says.