#TurksandCaicos, February 9, 2021 – Service with a smile, covered by a mask and no longer in the comfort of your favorite hang-out, all of these entities are forced to not only close up by 5 p.m. today but to serve you outside or ‘curbside’ in a new raft of rules aimed at stunting the new case count of Covid-19.
“There will be a night time curfew on all islands, from 6 p.m. in the evening to 6 a.m. in the morning; no exceptions. All businesses to be closed at 5 p.m. and you have one hour to return to your residence. Bars and restaurants are only allowed to serve curbside or takeaway; food or drinks,” said Edwin Astwood, the Minister of Health, during a national press conference held on Monday (February 8).
The new Public Health Regulations take effect tonight and for the next seven days Turks and Caicos has to do it differently after a record setting surge in coronavirus cases during January.
The Minister explained: “After evaluating these measures, we will see if we have to roll back or increase the measures.”
Thousands of islanders were tuned in online and locked into radio to hear the new restrictions, which mark the third raft of rules to be rolled out in 2021.
“With the increases we are seeing we have to break the mode of transmission and one of the ways of doing that is limiting the interaction that persons may have with each other and certain measures we will putting into place to try and break that transmission,” was explained as the reasoning for the dramatically early curfew and stringent new regulations.
While some businesses have adjusted their operating hours to continue essential services to the general public; others have decided to close for the week.
Boat operators get a slight reprieve in the new restrictions. The operators are now permitted to serve larger ‘family’ groups due to a tweak of regulation which, over the previous 14-days had limited passengers to six.
Reports are the measure of January 26-February 10 was a killer to the industry’s 100 boat operators.
The Minister had an update: “Restrictions on no more than six persons outside the same household on all pleasure craft used for excursions. If there are ten persons from the same household, that will be allowed but if I want to take a pleasure cruise with my friends, there would only be six of us allowed.”
Hotel and other essential workers will have an exemption; it enables them to move to and from work during the curfew hours without facing fines or tickets, explained the Health Minister.
“Hotel restaurants will continue to be open for persons in the hotel; that is for their guests. We have the bubbles in the hotels for their workers and the guests of the hotels.”
Airport workers, including staff from the private FBOs will fall within the essential workers category and will be exempt from the curfew rules and penalties, as well.
There continues to be a ban on parties and social gatherings.
“The extension on the complete ban of public or private gatherings or social activities of any description on all islands, including beaches, that is until Tuesday 16 February 2021,” he said from the press conference held at the Office of the Premier in Providenciales.
A 20 person allowance for individuals attending church, weddings or funerals is extended; this rule applies whether the events are indoors or outdoors.
“We all know the activities we are targeting here,” said Minister Astwood who shared, “The measures will be evaluated and adjustments will be made, either up or down. If it slackens; will depend on you. How well we do with(in) this next week. If it is tightened, it also depends on you (that is) how bad we do this week. So it is all in our hands. These measures are in our hands.”
Turks and Caicos up to the time of the press conference had 363 active cases of the coronavirus; 52 percent of which were female and 46 percent male.
CAPTION: Liquor served on the sidewalk in Pennsylvania due to takeaway and curbside only regulations