Restaurants allowing dining again – Gov’t announces opening of theaters

The government is relaxing the restrictions that were placed on restaurants, theatres, cinemas and playhouses.

The restrictions were aimed at slowing the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Minister of Local Government, Desmond McKenzie, yesterday told parliament that, as it relates to restaurants, dining is being allowed as of today, July 2.

He explained that occupancy at restaurants must not exceed 50 percent of the facility’s capacity at any one point in time.

He added: “No more than four persons can be seated at a table. There must be at least six feet of space between tables, and no table must be joined to facilitate large groups.”

Meanwhile, McKenzie yesterday told parliament that cinemas, playhouses and theatres will be conditionally reopened to the public for a period of 14 days, starting on Sunday (July 5).

He noted that the re-opening is subject to safety protocols arrived at following intense discussions with the operators of those venues.

“One aspect of the protocols requires that no more than 60 percent of seating capacity must be used. And there are other important mechanisms that have been put in place which speak to a maximum of four persons from the same family [being allowed to sit together],” the minister further said.

The protocols also stipulate that there must be a gap of two-seat spaces between each group of persons as well as between individual patrons.

The rules also speak to facilitating one-way foot traffic (one-way in and one-way out) inside cinemas where possible, and that at least two rows must be left empty to facilitate movement of persons across the width of the venue.

In addition, promoters or managers must ensure that all actors are screened and, where required, tested for COVID-19.

For both indoor and outdoor venues, there must be at least six feet of space between the stage and the first row occupied by patrons. That area must be marked and physical barriers erected where possible.

The minister added that all cinemas, playhouses and theatres must be closed no later than one hour before the designated time for the nightly curfew.

He noted that the same rules will apply in terms of other venues used to host plays. “Let me make the point that only plays will be facilitated. We are not talking about parties. We are talking about plays…and the same protocols will be in place [at those venues],” he emphasized.

McKenzie also advised that operators of all theatres, cinemas, playhouses and restaurants must allow access and monitoring by officials from the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force. He assured that the officials will have proper identification.


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