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Increased Protocols Announced to Curtail Transmission of COVID-19

At an Update to the Nation on 20th January 2021 with Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet, Command Centre Chairman Honourable Dominic Fedee and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, new protocols were announced in order to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

Image of Dr Sharon Belmar-George
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Sharon Belmar-George

The decisions followed a meeting with the National Emergency Management Advisory Committee (NEMAC) and stakeholders and deliberation by the Cabinet of Ministers on Tuesday. Also in attendance at Wednesday’s briefing was Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr. Milton Desir and Chief Education Officer Dr. Fiona Mayer.

The CMO gave a situation report explaining that the current epidemiological curve to date indicates an upward turn in the rate of transmission and noted that the lack of protocol and restriction adherence over the holiday season has manifested in the rise in case numbers. Hence the need to scale back on activities which would encourage movement and gathering of persons for a ten-day period.

The announced decisions are as follows:

WORK FROM HOME AND REDUCED CONTACT MEETINGS

All organizations and businesses should continue to implement a Blended Service/Operations Approach where possible for all operations and employees.  Additionally, where possible, there should be a complete move to staff and board meetings being held virtually/online platform.  Separate provisions apply for necessary sectors e.g. Essential Services, Construction, Manufacturing, Call-Centres, Hardware, Banks and Port facilities etc.

BUSINESS OPERATING HOURS (COVID19 ACT, SECTION 17)

All Business Operations And Commercial Activities Must End By 9:00PM Daily, as guided by The COVID19 (Prevention & Control) Act, Section 17(2)(b). This requires all businesses – including supermarkets and restaurants – to completely shut its doors and dismiss staff by 9:00PM. Separate provisions apply for Essential Civil Services, Construction Operations, and Manufacturing Operations, etc.

ESSENTIAL AND NON-ESSENTIAL ACTIVITIES

ACTIVITIES ALLOWED TO OPEN: gas stations, supermarkets, financial services (inclusive of insurance, all with a blended approach), restaurants (take out service only), manufacturing, exports, hardware stores, public transportation, vendors on rotation with protocols, agricultural sector, call centres, hotels for international tourists, doctor’s offices, Diagnostic and lab services and other health support services, pharmacies, law offices and accounting offices with blended approach, utility companies, media services and customs brokerage firms.

Essential Government services include – critical government agencies, hospitals, fire station, police and immigration, Air and seaports, infrastructure department, NEMO, public utility companies.

PROHIBITION OF ALL SOCIAL GATHERINGS

NO Social Gatherings at this point. In public and private settings, individuals are to limit their contact to their immediate households. NO allowance is given for mass gatherings, social events (of any kind), or loud music permits.

PROHIBITION OF ALL SOCIAL GATHERINGS – THE CHURCH

All Daily, Regular Church and Religious Services may operate using a blended approach of physical and online services.  Where there is such physical service such an assembly is Limited to Twenty-five (25) People inclusive of Religious officials. Separate provisions apply for special religious rites, including Christenings, Weddings and Funerals. Those services may operate using a blended approach of physical and online, but where there is physical service such assembly is limited to ten (10) people.

RESTRICTIONS ON ALCOHOL SALES

Liquor License suspension at Supermarkets, Minimarts, Gas Station, Restaurants and Bars. Liquor licenses have been suspended effective immediately (Wednesday 20th January 2021). Additionally, public consumption of alcohol is also prohibited, particularly as a feature in small social gatherings at public beaches, rivers, etc. Please note this recommendation shall be in effect as of Wednesday 20th January 2021 for a twenty-one (21) day period.

RESTRICTIONS ON IN-DINING RESTAURANT SERVICES

Restaurants and Food Vendors are to restrict services to “Take-Away” only, as “In-Dining” Services are strictly prohibited. Alcohol-licensed restaurants and vendors must abide to the updated policy for Liquor suspension.

PROHIBITION OF ALL SPORTING ACTIVITY, GYMS INCLUDED

All Non-Contact And Contact Sporting Activities, Inclusive of In-Door and Outdoor Trainings, Local Competitions, Gym Workouts or Social Activities are prohibited. Special provisions apply for individual or immediate family households to exercise in a safe, open-air space. These activities may include running or walking, cycling, home-gyms, yoga etc. Special permission granted for training athletes requiring one-on-one coaching/training for non-contact sports. Special permission granted for 1-on-1 personal training.

SUSPENSION OF FACE-TO-FACE CLASSROOM TEACHING

All schools (public and private) are to remain physically closed and exclusively operational via multimedia platforms. The exceptions are or separate requirements apply for (public and private) education systems to facilitate in-person teaching for the following categories: Students of Medical schools, Grade 6, Tertiary Educational Institutions, Secondary Schools (Forms 4 and 5), NELU, Students who are sitting CSEC, other exams and preparing for practical evaluations.

The above recommendations (except the Liquor License which is suspended for 21 days) shall be in effect as of Friday 22nd January 2021 from 6:00pm for a ten (10) day period.

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