Tuesday 2 June, 2020

Minister calls on bars and tavern owners to regularise operations

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, says now is the time for community bars and taverns to regularise their operations, in light of the findings of a survey conducted by the Social Development Commission (SDC) on the Ministry’s behalf.

“Of the survey that we did across the country, 80 per cent of our bar operators are operating without a food handler’s permit, which is part of the required Ministry of Health and Wellness regulations. Another frightening number that we have found, based on the survey, is that close to 85 per cent of bars are operating without a spirit licence,” Mr McKenzie said.

The Minister was speaking at the virtual press launch of Red Stripe’s ‘For the Bars: For Jamaica’ programme. The programme will see Red Stripe and its partners providing reopening support worth $28 million to more than 1,800 community bars, starting later this month.

The reopening of community bars and taverns began on May 19 for a two-week probationary period. During this time the operators must show that measures are in place in line with protocols outlined by the Government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We are not compelling anyone to open. If you find that economically and otherwise it is not feasible for you to do so, then do not open; but if you are prepared to open, we are asking that you comply with the guidelines that have been set up,” the Minister urged.

“This is an opportunity that will be afforded to the operators to regularise their situation. We have been working with the Ministry of Justice. We are in possession of application forms, which will be circulated to those persons when we are doing the inspections on a daily basis. These forms must be filled out, meeting the criteria that are there. The Ministry of Justice will assist to ensure that the protocols are observed so that the proper licensing regime can be extended to the operators of bars,” explained Minister McKenzie.

The survey also revealed that 69 per cent of the bars surveyed had already started or completed preparations for meeting the protocols for reopening.

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