Wednesday, July 17, 2024

COVID-19 regulations continue to restrict Publican’s Special liquor licenses


Another year is winding down, and stakeholders in San Pedro Town are again renewing trade licenses, permits, and liquor licenses. Most liquor licenses are renewable, such as Restaurant, Beer, Malt, Publican’s General, and Shop. However, the Publican’s Special is not yet available due to the current Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 136 of the COVID-19 regulations. This license applies to bars, which are not permitted to open under the current SI.

Places open to the public and sell alcoholic beverages are to operate under a Restaurant license. As previously indicated, they may only offer dining-in services to immunized patrons, by reservation only, and for no more than 75% of its seating capacity. Restaurant management is required to observe social distancing protocols and other required hygiene rules such as hand sanitizing.

Another factor that has affected the Publican Special liquor license is the current curfew from 9PM to 4AM. This license allows establishments to open until midnight. Although the curfew is to expire on December 1st, the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) will decide at that time whether to abolish or adjust it. According to MOHW’s Minister, Honourable Michel Chebat, it all depends on how the rate of COVID-19 infections stands in Belize.

The number of confirmed cases countrywide has fluctuated, showing more recoveries on some days, while positive cases increase on other days. As of November 9th, there were 2,115 active cases countrywide, with a total of 36 hospitalizations and 14 in the Intense Care Unit. Data reported on that date show more positive cases than recoveries and a total of ten deaths, with two of them from San Pedro.

The San Pedro Town Council advises they deny any applications for a Publican Special license. Applicants are to wait until December to find out what the new COVID-19 regulations will be and if the law will allow bars and other similar establishments to operate.

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