by Linda Straker
- Emergency Powers Regulation provides for social activities to be up to 20 people
- Acting Commissioner of Police can grant special permission to any business
- Several business places failing to comply with requirements for hosting social activities beyond 20 people
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has openly condemned the management of hotels and other places where social activities can be held because of their failure to comply with the Covid-19 protocol which requires them to obtain special permission from the relevant authorities.
Currently, the Emergency Powers Regulation provides for social activities to be up to 20 people, while weddings and funerals are allowed a maximum figure of 50.
However, the same regulation provides for the Acting Commissioner of Police to grant special permission to any business, especially those in the entertainment sector, whose venue fulfils the prerequisite for additional persons to be in the location at the same time.
Dr Mitchell told a sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday, 11 September 2020, that several business places are failing to comply with the requirements for hosting social activities beyond 20 people.
“In recent times, some persons in our society have been initiating activities inconsistent with the regulations and of course permission from government, in the whole process of the government’s intention to protect the country,” he said, explaining that the Cabinet is the body responsible for approving on recommendation from the Minister for Health.
“I think it must be made clear because it seems like we are getting certain things crossed, because some people are indicating that permission was given by this person for certain activities and we must make it very clear it’s only one group of persons responsible for governing of the country – the Cabinet,” he said.
The Minister for Health will receive the recommendation from the Task Force for Health after the relevant officers approve a location.
“In some cases, I believe there is a deliberate attempt to go against the fundamentals that are meant to protect the country and in some cases by people who ought to know better,” he said, pointing that some of the offenders are hotels.
“It has been brought to our attention that some businesses, hotels facilities in particular, not a lot but some, have been holding serious parties and when you see the pictures you realise it must be deliberate; and it’s by people who ought to know better,” said the Prime Minister who was visibly upset.
“I am angry because this gives the perception that some people are allowed to do what they want,” he said, as he decried those whom he described as displaying a level of selfishness which gives the subtle message of “as long as I am benefiting then to hell with everybody else.”
Health Minister Nickolas Steele explained that the licence granted to restaurants and other businesses to resume operations is for them to operate under normal conditions, but permission for hosting a special event like a fete or any activity that is outside of normal operations needs a separate permission licence.
The venue needs to be inspected before a special licence is approved. After his deliberations in Parliament, at least 2 businesses which advertised activities for Friday night issued cancellation or temporary closure notices.
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