AS safe zones in restaurants, cinemas and other recreational areas go live in just over a week, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi is warning both businesses and patrons that failure to adhere to the main rules of being vaccinated carries a hefty penalty.
Speaking during the Prime Minister’s media conference on Saturday, Al-Rawi said any business owner who operates a safe zone and has an unvaccinated person on their premises will be fined $25,000 if found guilty. Unvaccinated patrons found in safe zones face a $5,000 fine. Anyone found guilty of producing fake documents will be charged with fraud and treated with as the law allows.
Al-Rawi said children under 12 are not allowed in safe zones as they can’t be vaccinated.
He said all businesses in safe zones must ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated. Workers who can’t be vaccinated because they are pregnant, recently recovered from the virus or have any other medical reason can obtain an exemption or deferral certificate from doctors in the public health sector.
“If you are the beneficiary of either an exemption certificate or medical deferral certificate, you are obliged, under the regulations, to obtain either an approved rapid test or a PCR test or such other tests approved. You must present yourself with those certificates with a negative PCR, or negative rapid test every 14 days. And those are to be kept on record and to be kept on file.”
He said it was not punitive to ask those who have exemption and deferrals to submit negative test results every two weeks, which cost at least $900, as such a policy is in place worldwide. He said since the workers operate in a safe zone, there must be extreme caution.
Asked if pandemic leave will be reconsidered, Al-Rawi said the matter is currently before the courts and he will speak on it at a later date.
Al-Rawi said the safe zones are to be monitored by police and public health officials. Asked if they will have to be vaccinated, he said that will be up to the Ministry of Health and the police service leadership to decide.
Restaurants and bars that don’t want to be safe zones will not be allowed to have dine-in services, but can continue delivery and curbside pick-up.
To enter safe zones patrons will have to produce an identification card and their vaccination cards. On Friday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the Government is moving to have QR codes (barcodes) on cellphones to replace the current system.
He said then: "We are putting data in our database. In about six-eight weeks, we will have that system up where people can have their vaccination status on the phone with a QR code to scan. People would not have to walk around with a physical card."
The safe zones will be restaurants, bars, casinos and betting halls, cinemas, private members' clubs, theatres, gyms and fitness studios and water parks and will be in operation from October 11.