THE Hard Rock Café, located at the Movietowne Mall at Turkeyen, on the lower East Coast Demerara, was shut down by the National COVD-19 Task Force (NCTF) on Sunday afternoon as customers were dining at the restaurant. When the Guyana Chronicle visited the restaurant on Sunday evening, all of the employees were seen heading home. One employee related that officers from the security forces paid the facility a visit that afternoon, while customers were dining both inside and outside, and asked them to vacate the premises in three minutes. The employee affirmed that even though the restaurant was offering indoor dining, the tables were all spaced more than six feet apart. According to Section (6) of the existing COVID-19 guidelines, however, indoor dining is not prohibited.
Restaurants are only permitted to offer outdoor dining, drive-thru and takeaway services, curb-side pickup and delivery. Outdoor dining is only permitted during the hours of 04:00 and 21:30; all tables must be spaced six feet apart from each other, and no more than four persons should be seated at one table. Paragraph (3)(b) specifically states: “Indoor and buffet dining is prohibited.” Bars, rum shops, cinemas (except drive-thru cinemas) and other such entertainment businesses are strictly prohibited. The Guyana Chronicle understands that the customers who were dining at Hard Rock on Sunday left without completing their meals, and without paying their bills. The officers remained until each person left, and informed the manager and other employees that the business would be closed indefinitely for breaching the COVID-19 guidelines.
When the Guyana Chronicle attempted to confirm the clall osure of this restaurant with the relevant authorities, a reliable source said was, “A few places were told to close, because they were in breach of the measures.” The source did not name any of the establishments closed by the task force, but sought to remind this publication that the task force has been issuing warning letters to businesses breaching the national COVID-19 guidelines for more than two months now.
Back in December, Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony told the Guyana Chronicle that businesses found breaching the COVID-19 guidelines would be issued two warning letters by the NCTF, and that the body would also try to engage these businesses to dissuade from acting in contravention of the law. But if, after the second warning letter, these businesses continued to breach the guidelines, Dr. Anthony emphasised that the Task Force would shut down their operations. Dr. Anthony had also revealed that the National COVID-19 task force (NCTF) had so far written to more than 60 businesses, pertaining to a breach of these guidelines.