ON the advice of medical officials and technical officers, the Cabinet of Ministers this week agreed upon adjusted COVID-19 protocols for the period 13th – 31st August, 2021. A meeting of NEMAC was convened and consultations were held with the SLHTA, Restaurant Owners, Tourism Operators and other stakeholders. The Opposition was represented by former Tourism Minister, Dominic Fedee. The recommendations on the adjusted COVID-19 protocols were generally accepted by participants of NEMAC and other stakeholders.
1. Workplace Physical Distancing and Blended Approach
All agencies and businesses are advised to encourage Physical Distancing in the workplace. A Blended Service and Operations Approach of working in office and from home may be implemented for employees where necessary. There should be encouragement of large staff and board meetings being held virtually/online platform. Separate provisions apply for necessary sectors e.g. Essential Services, Construction, Manufacturing, Call Centers, etc.
2. Curfew Restrictions and Business Operating Hours
• A curfew of 9:00PM – 4:00 a.m. is to be implemented and thoroughly enforced.
• All business operations and commercial activities must end by 8:00 pm daily, as guided by curfew enforced through the State of Emergency.
• This requires all businesses – including supermarkets and restaurants – to completely shut its doors and business activities by 8:00PM in order to curb movement past 9:00PM.
• Separate provisions apply for necessary sectors e.g. Essential Services, Construction, Manufacturing, Call centers, Certified Hotel Employees, etc.
3. (a) Restrictions On Social Gathering
• Social Gatherings are to be restricted to immediate households and family limited to 10 people.
• In private settings, individuals are required to limit their contact as much as possible to family and adhere to all the necessary protocols and general hygiene procedures.
• No loud music permits to be issued for the three-week period.
3. (b) The Church – Limited To Square Footage For Regular Services
• All daily or regular church and religious services are permitted in accordance with social distancing protocols.
• Religious institutions may carry out services according to the square footage of the church. This is guided by each institution’s guidelines and protocols approved by the Ministry of Health.
• Special religious rites, including Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals will be limited to one hundred (100) individuals (inclusive of observers and the service leaders). Funeral and wedding services are by invitation only. Dates of burial services are not to be formally advertised.
3. (c) Special Events
• No allowance is given for gatherings and special events for the three (3) week period
• Neither vaccinated or unvaccinated people are allowed to host or attend any social activities including but not limited to parties, boat rides, receptions etc.
• No loud music permits to be issued for the three (3) week period.
• No formal submissions of “request to host” social events will be processed for the three (3) week period
4. (a) Sporting Activity Including Gyms –Uncontrolled
• All sports are allowed for the given time period limited to field capacity and game structure. No spectators or crowding allowed at this time.
• Gyms are approved to operate in keeping with all necessary protocol and capacity limited by square footage.
• Special permission may be granted for training athletes requiring one-on-one coaching/training for contact sports, selective competitions and sporting associated community engagements.
4. (b) Sporting Activity -Controlled Events
• Controlled sporting events approved by the Ministry of Health are allowed at this time. Participant and operational personnel quotas will be established on an individual basis.
• Formal submission of “request to host” sporting events to the necessary authorities inclusive of staff list at least fourteen (14) days prior for approval by Ministry of Health.
• Special consideration may be granted for spectators.The spectator capacity will be based on the event and other conditions stipulated by Ministry of Health.
• Fully vaccinated* (both doses issued at least 2 weeks prior to event)
5. Facilitation of Education
• All Educational Institutions will operate as per established school hours.
• School operation for the new academic year will be assessed at the middle of August based on the transmission rate and final decision on which schools will operate fully or use the alternate days approach will be specified.
• The optional modalities explored:
• 1. Full reopening of all educational institutions
• 2. Whole school & alternate day schooling based on physical infrastructure and student population as determined by the MoH and MoE.
6. Restrictions on Tourism Operations
• Present protocols for MoT and the Tourism Sector are adjusted as follows for this time.
• No local stay at COVID approved properties where unvaccinated visitors are accommodated.
• All boat rides are prohibited for the three (3) week period.
• Alternate days for local and tourist service at parks, restaurants, etc. are to be maintained for this period.
• An ongoing assessment and other measures will be implemented as per consultation with MoH and MoT to be finalized Friday 13th August 2021.