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Quarantine changes will ease staff shortages, restaurant sector says

Port O Call Restaurant (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Business leaders have backed quarantine policy changes for people who are close contacts of infected people.

Karl Massam, the head of the Chamber of Commerce’s restaurant division and general manager of the Yellowfin restaurant group, said yesterday that the changes made sense and would ease staffing problems.

Mr Massam said: “I personally hope this is the first of many relaxations of Covid restrictions.

“As we move forward from the pandemic, we must learn to live with this and stop restricting the way we do business.

“Our industry is on its knees, and many establishments won't survive if this continues.”

Mr Massam was speaking after the Government announced on Sunday that close contacts of people who tested positive for the coronavirus would no longer need to quarantine as long as they were fully vaccinated and showed no symptoms.

Mr Massam said that restaurants had struggled over the past two weeks to balance dine-in and takeout services because of a lack of staff, which also affected delivery services such as Sargasso.

He added: “It's not that establishments were closed, it’s just many would have to stop taking orders once they've reached their current capacity levels.”

Mr Massam, whose portfolio includes Port O Call on Front Street in Hamilton, said: “We have seen staff shortages in the restaurant industry over the last few weeks and this should help.

“Any industry where it is impossible to work from home has seen massive impacts on their ability to remain operational.”

Kendaree Burgess, the CEO of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, also welcomed the loosened regulations.

She added: “We look forward to moving Bermuda beyond the pandemic.”

A government spokeswoman emphasised that daily antigen testing for seven days was “strongly recommended” for close contacts of infected people.

The policy change, announced last week, was scheduled to happen on Thursday, but the Ministry of Health said it had made the shift early to ease the pressure on businesses.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said: “Effecting this change immediately is vital to reduce staffing pressures in the public and private sector as we progress towards living with the coronavirus.”

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Published January 18, 2022 at 7:54 am (Updated January 18, 2022 at 7:39 am)

Quarantine changes will ease staff shortages, restaurant sector says

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