After restocking, sports bar owner learns not allowed to reopen

SOME sports bar owners who have been excluded by the Government in its controlled reopening of bars say they are equipped to follow the established protocols.

Calvin Malcolm, owner of Mobay Proper in St James, told the Observer that he understood the Spirit Licence Act speaks to “village” bars but with reference made to “community” in relation to the measures in light of the COVID-19 crisis, he assumed that his sports bar would have been included in the definition of community bars.

“The Act speaks to village bars or taverns, and in the street we call it corner bar. So when I heard the term ‘community bar’, I didn’t see the reason for not opening. So I bought stock, hired staff, [and] typed up my protocol, until Sunday when I got a WhatsApp message from one of my suppliers saying that it does not apply to sports bars, which is what I am.

“I am very disappointed, especially because none of the sports bar [operators] who I am in contact with in Montego Bay knew that they were excluded,” said Malcolm.

Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie last week announced that community bars and taverns would be allowed to reopen on yesterday, from 11:00 am to one hour before curfew, and would remain open for two weeks, during which their operations would be assessed. The stipulations for reopening meant bar operators would have to adhere to strict guidelines, including physical distancing rules, with no more than five people — including the bartender — inside the establishment at any one time, and no stools, benches, chairs, or tables for people within the bar.

Although Malcolm is disappointed that the information regarding the categories of bars allowed to reopen was not clearer, he is happy that some bar operators are able to reopen.

“I am happy that some people are going to get the opportunity to restart and do some business,” said Malcolm.

Andre Dyer, of Rehab Sports Bar and Grill in Montego Bay, had not planned to reopen the doors to the establishment based on the restrictions outlined by Government, but had no idea why sports bars were excluded.

“Four people can’t really pay the bills for an establishment such as mine, so I decided to remain closed. However, mi think dem [Government] need fi give all of us a chance, because we have bills a come een same way,” he argued.

Though the measures for reopening are tight, things seem to be going well for Suzette Reid, owner of Sexy Sue by the Sea in Hopewell, Hanover, as she reopened yesterday.

“I already embrace the Government restrictions before I open. I have the sanitary area settings, six feet apart settings, no stools, no tables. I have sanitised the entire bar and the premises. I have all those things intact,” she said.