Limited indoor dining will be allowed in bars from Feb. 1

– but no ‘easing’ on social activities, curfew

LIMITED indoor dining is permitted in bars from Feb. 1, although there has been no ‘upwarding’ in many other social activities or the national curfew, according to the gazetted COVID-19 orders that take effect from 1 February and finally until February 28, 2021.

On Friday, the Guyana Chronicle managed to see a copy of COVID-19 Emergency Measures (no. 14) that will take effect from Monday. These orders detailed the restrictions to social activities, where it was stated that no person may host, attend or visit: a cinema, except a water-powered cinema; private party; a banquet, ball or reception, public swimming pool or hotel or water park; waking up or watching; club or discotheque; a meeting of a fraternal society, private or social club or civic association or organization or any other social activity.

Notably, however, bars and rumors were not on this list of restrictions. In previous collections COVID-19 orders, attendance at or visits to these establishments was strictly prohibited.

However, paragraph (6) of Section (3) (c) stated: “Indoor and outdoor dining in a restaurant and bar is only permitted between 04:00 am and 9:30 pm.” It was further noted that indoor dining in a restaurant and bar is limited to 40 per cent capacity of the building, tables must be set six feet apart and no more than four persons should sit at one table, and per person be three feet apart.

“Staff in restaurants and bars must wear a face mask fitted to cover the nose, mouth and jaw at all times; sanitize dining tables, chairs and bar countertops after use by all customers, ”said the new gazetted orders.

Over the past few weeks, the National Task Force COVID-19 (NCTF) ‘shut down’ a number of local restaurants for violating COVID-19 guidelines by offering indoor dining, which was previously banned. Such bars, rumors and entertainment areas that were open were also closed as the measures stated that these establishments should not be opened. These organizations were warned before they closed.

From February, however, these organizations will be allowed to operate in limited capacity. The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) will be responsible for monitoring all restaurants and bars to ensure the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

This newspaper understands that restaurants and bars will have to get their premises adapted to allow for ‘social-distance’ indoor dining and then apply to the GTA for certification. Following an inspection of the premises by the local tourism authority, only then will restaurants be allowed to offer indoor dining.

FRS will also be responsible for monitoring these organizations to ensure that they do not breach any of the COVID-19 measures. In the meantime, the national curfew will remain in force between 10:30 pm and 04:00 am.