PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said recent relaxations on COVID-19 restrictions were never meant to allow gaming houses to resume operations.
Instead, he said the provisions under phase 1B of the government’s plan to reopen the economy related to retail businesses only, stressing that web shops are to remain closed during this period.
On May 3, Dr Minnis announced some relaxations to COVID-19 restrictions, saying businesses will be allowed to provide goods and services through delivery and curbside pickup during weekdays while construction will be allowed Monday through Friday. Home and hardware stores, nurseries and auto part stores — which were allowing customers in stores on specified days — were also allowed to expand their services by offering curbside pick-up and delivery throughout the week.
These relaxations prompted many in the web shop sector to reopen their businesses after a more than six-week closure. Some web shops had a drive-through facility for patrons to deposit money on their accounts or pay for their numbers and a tent structure outside for curbside services.
Yesterday, Dr Minnis admonished business owners to read the government’s emergency orders and the stipulations for curbside and delivery services, which he said related strictly to retail businesses.
“Part C of the (emergency order) codifies and sets out the terms and conditions based on which
certain additional establishments or businesses have been permitted to reopen nationally for home delivery and curbside pick-up. It is important for business owners to carefully read these provisions, and to strictly comply with the physical distancing and sanitization requirements, and the requirement for the remote or electronic placement of all purchase orders, both for curbside and home delivery services.
“These provisions are designed to relate strictly to retail business establishments which can operate efficiently without the need for direct person-to-person physical contact or face-to-face interactions.
“They were never intended to apply to the operations of gaming houses, and this is now made abundantly clear by the provisions of Part B of the order. Those provisions specifically state that
permission to engage in home delivery and curbside pick-up services do not apply to
‘a gaming house operator.’”
The Minnis administration caught flack last week after some religious leaders questioned why liquor stores and gaming houses were able to resume operations while churches are still barred from having services.
Yesterday, Dr Minnis said discussions were still ongoing about when to reopen churches however he did not announce a date when this will occur. In the meantime, churches can still host individual prayer sessions with safe physical distancing measures; church offices are allowed to operate for half the day, Monday to Friday and churches also continue to operate food programmes, he said.