The Statutory Instrument was amended today and reflects some minor changes in regulations. One of those amendments now includes the reopening of archaeological sites and water-based locations including but not limited to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. According to the Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte, with the reopening of these locations tour guides and operators are now allowed to function. Another amendment made to the SI has to do with restaurants. Peyrefitte appeared on Ask the Expert earlier today to explain these changes with a major emphasis on the sale of alcohol and food.
Hon.Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security, Attorney General: “The big one I want to talk about today Dorian is about restaurants. We noticed something over the weekend you have two type of establishments that sell food and liquor. You have in the technical term places that are restaurants which means that these things have restaurant licenses and when you have a restaurant license you are allowed to of course serve food but a unique feature of the restaurant license is you are allowed to serve alcohol with the food. So if I go and I sit at a restaurant and I am eating my rice and beans or I’m eating wings and fries or whatever I can serve that food with a beer. Or if I’m eating a certain type of food or dinner I can serve that dinner with some wine. Even though it’s a restaurant you’re allowed to serve liquor but specifically only serve that liquor with the food or maybe one drink before your food and maybe a drink after the food and then you leave but it’s not like it’s operating like a bar. It’s a restaurant you’re eating, you go there to eat you don’t go there to drink just that some people like to enjoy a little bit of alcohol with their food and you’re allowed to do that as a restaurant. There is a particular type of license called a publican special license. The publican special license allows you to do exactly what a restaurant does you serve food, you get liquor with the food but the unique feature of a publican special license is you can go to that place and just drink and not eat food any at all.”
Dorian Pakeman, Government of Belize Press Office: “So they can operate as a bar.”
Hon.Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security, Attorney General: “They operate as a bar and a restaurant combined. Those places could not open over the weekend or could not open as of Friday because then they are not strictly speaking restaurants they are more bars who happen to serve food on the side. Restaurants serve food mainly with liquor on the side, bars like publican special places serve liquor with a little food on the side. The law has been amended to say this; if you hold a publican special license you will be able to open but you must operate as if though you are a restaurant. So even though you can open and you have a publican special for now you can only serve your liquor with food so if you had a publican special license and you weren’t serving food none at all you need to start to serve food now or you have to remain closed.”
As it relates to social gatherings and dining out, Attorney General Peyrefitte explained that there are some who are trying to find loopholes in the regulations. He added that establishments run the risk to lose their licenses if they are caught.
Hon.Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security, Attorney General: “We don’t want to encourage people to hang out. You go you have your meal, a drink or two with your meal and then you leave. If you go there or if the patrons of these places allow people to go there and hang out like bar the recommendation will be for you to lose your license because over the weekend Dorian too much slack behavior occurred and listen, a second wave of COVID-19 is all but imminent you know and people are being too relaxed and too reckless. Now it’s up to the NOC and it’s up to the task force but I am telling you the National Security apparatus will have no difficulty in recommending to the NOC, to the Task Force and to the Cabinet for us to go back to where we were very very strict you know because it is ultimately our responsibility to make sure that people are COVID-19 free. I repeat reservations only, open air if you’re a restaurant you continue to operate like a restaurant food mainly with a drink or two with your meal. If you’re a publican special people can’t go to the place just to drink you have to go there and have a drink or two along with your meal just like a restaurant and that is the main change that will occur in the SI going forward.”