The Issuing of Restaurant Licenses in San Pedro
There are reports that restaurant licenses are being issued left, right and centre on the island of Ambergris Caye. Several businesses, particularly bar owners are applying for these licenses to beat the current state of emergency regulations that prohibit bars from operating at this time. These businesses have publican licenses to sell liquor so the restaurant licenses allow them to sell food, liquor and operate during the pandemic with seating now expanded beyond ten persons depending of space to allow for social distancing between tables. Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte broke down the situation, while ComPol Chester Williams says that a number of those establishments are not in compliance with the requirements.
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General
“The publican license allows an establishment to sell food and liquor, but if you want to go there just to consume liquor, you can do that as well. That’s the publican special license. When you have a restaurant license, you are allowed to consume liquor, but with the food, so the restaurant license dah a little bit a liquor with yo food. Publican license is liquor and food or just liquor if yo want. An establishment that has a restaurant license alone cannot have people just go there and drink like a bar. Under the quarantine act, signed by the Minister of Health, the only places that are allowed to open are restaurants – places with restaurant licenses. Now some people could get creative; if all I have is a publican license, what I can then do is apply to my local government to say I have a publican license, but I want to open as a restaurant and so I hereby apply for a restaurant license and under that restaurant license you are allowed to open under the SI.”
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
“Whenever an establishment applies for certain category of license, there is the inspection that is normally done by the liquor licensing board, the police, the health and the fire to ensure that the legal requirements in order ofr them to be given that license. And in these cases from San Pedro, I am told that some of the requirements are not being complied with. And may I say that restaurant license is one of the few licenses for which the Liquor Licensing Act clearly stipulates what the criteria must be to get a restaurant license. And so I am hoping that these establishments that are given restaurant license that they meet the legal requirements as stipulated in the intoxicating liquor licensing act. Because if it is that they don’t meet the legal requirements, whether or not they have a license, we are going to close them down.”