Rule-breaking bars face 24-hour closure

Police will be able to shut licensed premises for 24 hours if they breach Covid-19 regulations.

A police spokesman said the Public Health (Covid-19 Emergency Powers) Amendment (No 3) Regulations were amended last week to introduce the new powers.

He said yesterday: “In the interest of transparency, we would like to notify the public of this section of law and that we will be addressing such breaches accordingly.”

A $6,000 fine was the harshest punishment for bars or restaurants that allowed large groups or broke the rules on social-distancing and the use of face masks before the change.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said last night: “Enforcement is most effective if penalties can be imposed on the spot, rather than through lengthy investigations.

“The objective is to stop the activities that can spread Covid-19 and this amendment helps to achieve that.”

Stricter enforcement of Covid-19 safety rules was promised in the wake of a controversial dinner at Blu Bar and Grill Restaurant in Warwick last month, which led to the resignations from Cabinet, of Wayne Caines, the national security minister, and Zane DeSilva, the tourism and transport minister.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, said at the time: “Enforcement protocols must be enhanced so that the requirements necessary for approval are adhered to, such as confirmation that rules are actually being enforced, spot checks at establishments, especially liquor establishments, recording of names and contact information, adequate sanitiser and issuing the appropriate sanctions for non-compliance.”

Regulations for licensed premises include:

• No groups of more than 50 people without approval from the national security minister

• Live performances allowed only where strict social-distancing precautions are enforced

• Six feet between customers, visitors and staff, or three feet while wearing face masks

• Provision of guidance on social-distancing and hygiene to people before and on arrival

• The use of hand sanitiser hand-washing for customers when they enter.

To view the Government’s regulations on bars, nightclubs and restaurants, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

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Published Aug 11, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 11, 2020 at 12:37 pm)

Rule-breaking bars face 24-hour closure

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