PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever said during the live virtual Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday that government is considering ordering casinos, bars, nightclubs, adult entertainment establishments and lounges to completely close their doors in response to clusters of coronavirus cases linked to these businesses.
According to De Weever, the closures will take the form of a Ministerial Regulation. This is expected to be an amended version of the regulation signed by De Weever and Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Richard Panneflek on Friday, August 7, that ordered entertainment establishments and restaurants to close from midnight to 6:00am daily.
De Weever said government is “in the process of negotiating” whether restaurants will face additional restrictions, such as limiting services to outdoor dining only.
“We agreed yesterday [Tuesday – Ed.] that we would look into it further based on the recommendations we are getting from the medical professionals,” she said.
De Weever also said event and conference halls may face limits on the number of persons allowed inside these facilities. “Gathering venues and conferences … even though [in these venues] you can do social distancing, the risk right now is too high among our population and the medical professionals are urging us to be as conservative as possible, as strict as possible when it comes to our measures,” she said.
When asked by reporters to divulge additional information about the potential closures, De Weever declined to do so because of the fluid nature of the situation.
“The Ministerial Regulation is changing, especially with the developments of today [at Learning Unlimited School – see related story]. … So, what I say here I do not want to be held accountable for, because we are constantly changing the businesses based on the risk exposure [and other information] that we are receiving from the medical professionals that are actively studying COVID-19 clusters on the island. …
“What I can say with certainty is that casinos, bars, nightclubs, lounges will be closed the minute our Ministerial Regulation is finalised,” she said.