By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Entertainment destinations yesterday said they are "holding firm" as they negotiate COVID-19 protocols with the Ministry of Health in a bid to re-open ten months after the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Leslia Miller-Brice, manager of Mario's Bowling and Family Entertainment Centre, told Tribune Business she was awaiting a detailed response from the Ministry of Health to the revised COVID-19 health and safety measures that the Tonique Williams Highway-based facility has submitted.
She said: “I would have sent them a long list of all the things that we would have done; a very long list of all of the rules that we will follow through with, and all of the protocols that we will put in place to make sure the customers follow the proper guidelines. The Ministry of Health still came back and told me that I have to wait.”
Mrs Brice said the Ministry of Health had pledged to forward additional recommendations to her by yesterday, adding that she was just “holding firm” and being patient until the information was received.
"I’m just trying my best to encourage my staff and help my staff as best as I can, because they still have their families that they have to take care of. They still have their bills that they have to pay," she added.
Mrs Brice said she had been referred to the Ministry of Health by the Prime Minister's Office, which acts as the so-called Competent Authority and normally has the final decision on all COVID-19 related protocols and measures.
She added: “All of my letters initially went to the office of the Prime Minister, and then they told me that I need to contact the Ministry of Health which will say say 'yes' or 'no'. Then they'll send it back to their office so their office would agree. So it's really up to up to the Ministry of Health.
“But if the Ministry of Health says 'no', then it’s 'no'." Mrs Brice said she has concerns over the Ministry of Health taking responsibility because it does not have the final say on indoor dining, while any recommendations it makes can still be rejected by the Prime Minister's Office.
Arguing that Mario’s elevated ceilings and overall building space matched the likes of the Mall at Marathon, she added: “We have to understand lives and businesses are at stake. My thing is we just have to put the necessary precautions in place because COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere."
Ivan Francis, owner/operator of Skate City 242, told Tribune Business: “The Government is telling us that they don’t want us to open, yet they are giving us all kinds of different stories.
"My thing is if they really want to help us, they can help us. They could allow us to open up and tell us that if my capacity is 200 people, then come back to me and say that the maximum I would be able to accommodate is 30 or 40 people. At least I can keep bread on the table for my family with that, but they aren’t doing anything for us.”
Mr Francis added that he is just waiting on the Prime Minister's Office to give the go-ahead on when restrictions will ease, even though he is not currently in dialogue with any officials. Neither has he been in contact with anybody from the Ministry of Health.
Mr Roxbury, owner/operator of Rack City Bar & Pool Lounge, said: “Business is a little slow right now and I just left it alone because I was not getting anywhere. I just have to wait for what the Government has to say and take it from there.”