Dwayne Vaz, Member of Parliament for Central Westmoreland, wants the Government to lift the ban that has been placed on the operation of bars across the island.
Vaz said the livelihood of many bar operators has been significantly impacted by the Government to close these businesses in wake of the COVID crisis. Prime Minister Andrew Holness, on March 16, announced the closure of all bars in an effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
At the time when the ban was imposed, Jamaica had 12 cases of the novel cornavirus. However, as of Monday the number of positive cases has soared to 364, even as non-essential workers have been ordered to work from home and an islandwide 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew has been in place.
Vaz is convinced that the bars could be allowed to reopen, under strict guidelines, to help rescue the livelihoods of operators and bartenders alike.
“I think that if bars are allowed to open, you can allow them to open under the same restrictions like everybody else. For example, they will still adhere to the curfew, still close at 4 o’ clock, still adhere to the six feet distance with other persons and no events can be held or else sanctions can be put in place,” he said.
“It’s not fair for some businesses to be open while some can’t open. Give everybody the same chance to make a likkle money,” he continued.
Vaz said that bars are the only source of income for most persons within Westmoreland and so having them closed for such a long time is causing untold hardship for people.
“They don’t have any income so obviously they can’t go out to shop. They have to be depending on people and some of them don’t have anybody,” he said.
Prime Minister Holness yesterday told Parliament that a taskforce is considering the potential for the reopening of bars and entertainment venues.