By Shelton Daniel
Bar owners must be prepared to accept and apply very strict protocols if they are to be granted permission to reopen, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
He was speaking Saturday during his weekly radio programme, The Browne and Browne Show, on PointeFM 99.1.
Bars, nightclubs and gymnasia – and, until recently, schools – have been kept shut for several weeks since the start of the year following a post-holiday season surge in COVID-19 cases.
Bars are considered especially risky due to the clustering of patrons that tends to occur, partly because of the relatively tight spaces at such establishments.
Also, people whose judgment has been impaired by consumption of alcohol are known to throw caution to the wind when it comes to protective measures such as social distancing, wearing of masks, cough-and-sneeze etiquette, and hand sanitisation.
“Next Wednesday, we hope to receive proposals for the reopening of churches, gyms – and possibly bars – if we can get them to come up with a possible solution that will not allow for any spread,” the Prime Minister told programme host Senator Colin O’Neal Browne, adding, “That is perhaps the most difficult proposition, to reopen bars. But we’re also mindful that they too need to live and that there are many bar owners and bar operators and employees of bars who need to get back to work.”
But he noted that while everyone is keen to “have a return to normalcy as soon as possible, bars will need to have very strict protocols if we allow them to reopen, and I hope the operators will cooperate.”
PM Browne then zeroed on a poignant example of a ‘wrong-and-strong’ bar owner who, after practising a most despicable type of irresponsibility, still had the audacity to publicly denounce local authorities for their efforts to keep the country safe.
“I saw one of them recently online criticising the government. The irony about it, prior to the spread that we saw in January, he would have been easily one of the most irresponsible bar operators. Even his girlfriend had gotten COVID and instead of having her isolated at home, he put her in the bar to serve others. So, when I see people like them criticising us on social media, I just have to shake my head because they are so irresponsible,” the Prime Minister stated.