By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Eleuthera and Exuma-based restaurants say the Government must show valid reasons for closing them down after it gave permission for Fish Fry-based eateries to open in time for New Year's Eve.
Stephanie Mariscal, owner/operator of Sweet and Savory Takeaway on Eleuthera, said her takeaway-based business has not really changed during the pandemic. She added: “I don't do any seating. So we've been been open for the most part this year, aside from the first lockdown.”
The latest changes to the Government's Emergency Powers Orders, released on December 30, gave the go-ahead for Fish Fry-based restaurants on Eleuthera and Exuma to re-open. They, too, can now operate inside and outside dining provided occupancies are kept to a maximum 50 percent of available seating with spacing at a minimum 30 square feet per person.
Ms Mariscal added: “I have a mobile truck. I can move my truck but I don’t. I'm actually parked in front of a grocery store.” Asked how she would react if the Government again has to close down restaurants, she said: “If it happens we won’t be upset about it if that’s what needs to be done.
“But, of course, we would hope that there's a good reason to do so. If cases are on the rise, and if they find out places like mine are contributing to the spread, we would be on board with whatever they decided to do. But if there was no reason to do it, then that would be a different story.”
Stephan Hall, general manager of Haulover Bay Bar & Grill Restaurant in Exuma, said the latest changes were geared towards Fish Fry restaurants as that complex is still closed on Exuma.
“They never reopened the Fish Fry since they allowed our restaurant to re-open, but our restaurant has gotten a real blow this year with the COVID-19. I haven’t hardly had any customers this year at all, because we were closed most of the time," Mr Hall said.
“We have been closed from March. There were hardly any tourists. Now we’re starting to pick up a couple of tourists as they come. I serve the tourists more than anything else, and they were not allowed to come. So that disadvantaged me a lot.”