Bar owners encouraged to hold strain; co-workers warned ‘don’t get too close’

By Shelton Daniel

Co-workers who share the same office spaces or are otherwise within close proximity of each other are being urged to remain cognizant of the risk and act accordingly to prevent COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.

The concern was articulated and the advice offered by the nation’s Prime Minister, Hon. Gaston Browne during his Saturday evening radio program, the Browne and Browne Show, on PointeFM 99.1.

“We see an area of vulnerability, staff-to-staff socializations in offices and business places, in which staff members have been exposing themselves to each other, sometimes wearing their masks as chin guards, or in some instances just not wearing their masks among their colleagues. That is an extremely dangerous practice, which, if it is not eliminated, we could well see an uptick in the amount of active COVID cases.”

The Prime Minister went on “to appeal to everyone who is working in these offices – in the public and private sectors, in the business places – to be a little more conscientious and not to take on that level of risk to expose yourself to individuals who could well be infected with COVID.”

The elected Member of Parliament (MP) for the densely populated constituency of St John’s City West acknowledged that the State of Emergency COVID prevention measures currently in force have been challenging for some businesses.

These include, for example, fast food outlets that depend heavily on nighttime patrons but must now shut down daily in time for the 6:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew. Hardest hit, though, would be alcohol-serving bars that have been ordered to shutter completely and without exception.

Browne said his government understands the crisis that this would probably cause to operators who are wholly dependent on earnings from such businesses, but it was a toss-up between safeguarding livelihoods versus preserving lives. “We know that some of the measures, including the curfew which we had to expand, are creating difficulties for people. I know that in some instances livelihoods have been affected.”

He however held out hope that, “Based on the trends we are seeing now, it’s possible that those measures will come to an end soon; and this is assuming that individuals remain responsible and we are able to reduce the spread of COVID, and possibly get the spread down to single digits, maybe less than three [per day] … that’s really the goal. As soon as we are able to get it under control through the existing measures plus the vaccination that we are promoting, then evidently we will move toward reopening – and perhaps eliminating the curfew – and reopening the country fully.”

The Prime Minister said his administration knows “people are hurting, but those individuals who have been displaced temporarily – the bar owners and even restaurant operators – they must understand that the government is prioritizing protecting lives … so we are asking for some patience from our people. We do understand the difficulties, but at the same time they have to understand that these measures are absolutely necessary. … So, we are calling on all citizens and all resident to hold strain and … continue to soldier on ….”

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