Chief Environmental Health Officer Lionel Michael said health officials had to return to the proverbial drawing board after patrons at 25 bars and nightclubs failed to comply with social distancing guidelines when they reopened last weekend.
In an interview with BVI News, Michael said some of these establishments failed to also implement hygiene protocols and use the required personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to stave off any spread of the coronavirus.
“The bars were open because they met the guidelines to open but having opened, a lot of people flout the guidelines — especially the public. They derogated from the guidelines that were put in place in order to open,” he stated.
As a result, a meeting was held on Tuesday with more than 60 stakeholders within the bar & nightclubs sector to discuss how to improve and maintain the guidelines that were implemented prior to reopening.
Michael stated that going forward, the existing guidelines have been amended to give patrons equal responsibility when they go to these establishments.
He explained: “The guidelines are putting all emphasis on the bar operators and managers, and none on the public. And so, that is something that we have to plug and we have addressed it. We are going to send out modified and improved guidelines.”
The Chief Environmental Health Officer said if these establishments fail to comply, his department, the police, and the Social Distancing Task Force have the authority to “stop their operation”.
“We can put a temporary halt to the operation, talk to people and tell them to stop. Depending on what the response is, they can continue [if they] observe the social distancing, the hand hygiene and the PPE. If they fail to comply, the police can ask them to cease operations permanently for that night or weekend, and then we go back to the drawing board and find out what problem they have in enforcing these things,” Michael said.
“We don’t want to threaten the bar managers and operators and tell them we want to shut them down, but at the same time we are here to protect public health, and we will do what we have to do to protect their business,” he added.
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