DESPITE Emergency Powers Orders that prohibit the opening of restaurants in New Providence, people – including Royal Bahamas Police Force officers – have been patronising a popular eatery on the island.
When The Tribune arrived at Getaway Restaurant and Lounge yesterday in the Golden Gates Plaza we witnessed police officers arriving at the eatery and leaving with bags of food.
Before this a police vehicle with several officers inside was seen leaving Gateway with food. At one point, The Tribune entered the local eatery and ordered several dishes and a few drinks which the employee was happy to serve.
The menu included fried pork chop, fried chicken, fish fingers either to be served with French fries or salad. Several dinners were also available. Liquor and other alcoholic beverages were also seen displayed on the restaurant’s wall.
However, it is not clear whether the beverages were on sale.
Other patrons included men and women of different age groups.
A buzzer at the door, however, restricted how many people could enter the business at one time.
Some patrons happily exited the bar with several plates of food wrapped in clear plastic bags, while others had nothing to disguise their purchase from shoppers on the busy street.
Still, there were a few customers who brought their own ecofriendly bags to disguise their purchases. However, for the most part, customers appeared to be wearing a mask as they entered the business establishment.
Earlier this month, Dr Minnis announced a strict “two-week minimum” lockdown in the country, closing all non-essential businesses and restaurants in an effort to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19.
Apart from new Emergency Powers Orders making it illegal to open restaurants, the prime minister specifically said in his August 3, 2020 national address that “there will be no curbside takeaway dining or retail” other than what was mentioned for hardware stores.
Under the orders, people are allowed to access grocery stores and water depots during the lockdown only three days a week.
The businesses are open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7am to 5pm for the general public and Saturdays from 7am to 1pm for essential workers only.
Exemptions have since been made for Abaco and Grand Bahama due to ongoing reconstruction efforts on those islands. Normal commercial activity has also been resumed on Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Long Island, Rum Cay and Ragged Island.
Still, this is not the first time the prime minister has placed the country under a full lockdown and implemented the COVID-19 restrictions to contain the COVID threat.
However, the new measures seem to be stricter than previous lockdowns, as most of the commercial sector has been ordered shut. For example, takeaway and curbside dining has been prohibited as well as most of the retail sector, except for hardware stores.
Despite the restrictions, several businesses have still been found in breach of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ COVID-19 orders.
In April, for example, businessman Jonathan Ash was fined $7,000 for selling alcohol at Made Men Sports Bar in breach of the emergency orders.
The 35-year-old pleaded guilty to the charges of violating the national curfew and operating a non-essential business.
At the time, Magistrate Rolle-Davis labelled his actions a “blatant disregard for the law”.