Under the new COVID S.I., restaurant employees must be vaccinated if they want to remain at work, unlike other frontline worker, they won't even be given the option to take that test every two weeks. This came as a surprise since it's not one of the regulations that was discussed at the Ministry of Health's press conference two weeks ago. Rather, most were under the impression that restaurant employees would follow the same guidelines as other frontline workers.

With this stringent new rule, Courtney Menzies went out to get the reactions of restaurant owners and managers. Here's that story.

Page 18 of SI 74 says that all restaurants, saloons, diners, and other similar establishments holding a restaurant license shall be allowed to operate if the employees of that establishment are immunized.

This part of the SI may have gone over the heads of many, but it should be noted that there are no provisions made that would allow the employees to skip the vaccine and take a test every two weeks – like what is afforded to other front line workers.

We asked the management of two local restaurants what they thought of the SI, and while they may not have known about this particular section, it's not a problem for them since they say their staff is willing to take the vaccine anyway.

George McNab - General Manager, Moe's Pizza Pasta
"I would say about half of our staff have already gotten their first vaccination shot. We've been rolling it out throughout the week so we send them a couple day by day with the plan of course being for everyone on staff to be fully vaccinated before August as is the mandate."

Courtney Menzies
"And has there been any pushback from the employees?"

George McNab
"Not really, there were a few people who of course were a little bit concerned, they had planned to do their vaccines maybe a little bit later but that was very few chatter and most of our staff was very eager to actually get the vaccine. Quite a few of them had started getting it even before the mandate came out."

And Lee Mark Chang, the owner of Chon Saan, told us that only a few employees are a bit reluctant.

Lee Mark Chang - Owner, Chon Saan Palace
"We have roughly about ten persons that have not been vaccinated yet. They don't want to do it or for whatever reasons they would like. With the new SI that came out where they have to do their PCR test every two weeks while working so we informed them either go and get the jab and show us the vaccine certificate or they have to bring a PCR test every two weeks in order to maintain their job."

Courtney Menzies
"And if they don't present this test every two weeks what happens then?"

Lee Mark Chang
"Then I'll just have to say I'm sorry. This is the law, you either bring me your vaccination certificate or you just have to bring me your PCR test every two weeks in order to serve."

And it's safe to say these two pro-vax employers agreed with the strict regulations, valuing the safety of their staff and customers and knowing it's necessary for us to ultimately return to normalcy.

Lee Mark Chang
"We have to protect each other so the basic minimum they can do, the employees, is to be tested every two weeks to make sure they don't have the COVID so we could protect everybody so yes I am in agreement with it."

Courtney Menzies
"What has been the reaction of the employees who are not vaccinated?"

Lee Mark Chang
"Ah, some of them like, what the hell, you know, government dih force me fih do this, so I tell them body is forcing you it's just that if you don't do this, you have to get your swab every two weeks so it's either or and sometimes you know being in government, drastic decisions has to be made for the betterment of the country and I believe this is a way to the betterment of the country where we could get back to some normalcy in Belize."

George McNab
"Ultimately, it's for the safety of the people of Belize, for the safety of not only our staff our customers and for everyone's help so if this is what the government feels is in the best interest of the people and everyone's health and safety then of course we will adhere to any protocols that they give out. I've been speaking to staff at both of them and as of right now, I haven't heard anybody who plan to refuse it, I think the idea of getting a test every two weeks is a little bit strenuous for most people so I highly doubt that anybody is going to say no."

Courtney Menzies
"When August comes and you need to request that test every two week is it something that you will enforce?"

George McNab
"Absolutely, yes, I have to ensure the safety of my other staff that have gotten vaccinated, and I have to ensure the safety of all of our customers that decide to patron the restaurant in these trying times so yes I will absolutely adhere to that. If they don't want to get the vaccine, that's totally their choice, we're not going to force anybody here, but if they don't then they have to provide that clearance every two weeks."

Both restaurants have outdoor dining options available for customers.

Channel 7