Premier refuses to say who signed off on St Regis exemption order
The Premier, David Burt, last night refused to state who signed off on an order enabling work to continue at the St Regis hotel during the stay-at-home order.
The exemption, approved by the Ministry of National Security after the stay-at-home order came into force on Tuesday, was pulled after two days with Renée Ming, the minister, saying on Wednesday it had been approved “in error”.
Hotelco, the developer of the luxury resort, insisted that they had spoken with “the Premier and his team” ahead of permission being granted for work at the site to continue.
Ms Ming stated that she had not approved it.
Asked if he had been the one to grant approval, Mr Burt said: “I do not okay any type of application, so I can’t say that’s correct.”
In response to questions of who did, the Premier replied that applications for exemptions were “considered by the team at National Security”.
Pressed whether he was behind the decision, Mr Burt said: “I am not entirely certain what more you want me to say. What’s been reported are the facts.”
Earlier in the press conference on Covid-19, Mr Burt emphasised there were “thousands of applications for exemptions that come in” and said the minister did not see all of them.
“There are applications approved each and every day that do not go before the minister. Ministers have team. These things can happen.”
Mr Burt called the development “very important” as “the first major luxury hotel opening in a number of years”.
He declined to say if anyone had been censured for the mistake, adding that matters of discipline in the public service were never disclosed.
Mr Burt added: “What your newspaper reported is accurate. Clearly, as I am the minister responsible for tourism, there were certain conversations in regard to what the impact of this stay-at-home order for the time of opening this hotel would be.”
Mr Burt said he hoped to see the St Regis opening go ahead on May 22. Outdoor construction can resume next week under Covid-19 regulations.