How to fish, swim and dine under the new COVID-19 regulations

People practise social distancing at Fidel Murphy's over the weekend. - Photo: Alvaro Serey

The shelter-in-place rules and restrictions which have dictated our daily movements since the start of the coronavirus crisis are slowly but surely being relaxed.

The initial Prevention, Control and Suppression of COVID-19 Regulations were repealed and replaced last week with a comprehensive set of new policies guiding the reopening of various sectors of the economy.

The guidelines also eased restrictions on movement and leisure activities.

Though the changes have been largely welcomed, confusion remains over what is and isn’t allowed. Here we try to clear up some of the key questions around what you can and can’t do right now.

When are bars and restaurants allowed to be open?

Multiple bars and restaurants reopened from Sunday for outdoor service only. Such establishments are allowed to provide table service to customers up to 9pm each night.

What other conditions apply to restaurants?

Staff must wear masks; no seating at the bar; reusable menus are not allowed; tables must be at least eight feet apart. Mingling between tables is prohibited, and customers from different households may sit at the same table but must be at least six feet apart.

Can we sit with other families?

You can sit with people from different households, as long as you maintain a distance of six feet. Practically, that is going to vary from bar to bar and restaurant to restaurant, depending on the size of the patio space and the size of the tables. Some establishments are restricting seatings to members of the same household, others are allowing different groups to sit around the same large table, so long as the social-distancing regulations are adhered to.

Do the alphabet restrictions still apply?

The alphabet restrictions do not apply to bars and restaurants or for exercise. However, they are still in place for supermarkets, gas stations, retail businesses, banks, car washes, post offices, laundromats and money-remittance services. As per the previous guidelines, people with surnames starting with the letters A-K can visit these places Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The L-Z group gets Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Restrictions don’t apply on Sundays.

What days can we go to the beach?

Restrictions on beach access have been eased, so anyone can visit the beach any day of the week to swim, fish from shore or to exercise. That includes water sports such as kayaking, surfing or kitesurfing. Parties or picnics on the beach are still banned.

Surfers were back out in the water last weekend as restrictions were eased. – Photo: Alvaro Serey

Can I have friends over for dinner?

No. It is still prohibited to have private gatherings involving any person outside of the household.

What about a backyard barbecue?

The regulations do allow for public gatherings of up to six people (subject to social-distancing guidelines); however, this does not include your backyard, which is still considered part of your home. Asked specifically about that issue this week, Premier Alden McLaughlin confirmed that gatherings on private property were not currently allowed, but suggested that could change within the next few weeks.

What are the guidelines on fishing?

One place you definitely can gather in groups of up to six people is on a fishing boat. As long as social distancing is adhered to on board, boats of up to six people are allowed to fish until 9pm. All boats must steer clear of the wildlife interaction zones, including Stingray City and Starfish Point.

What about other types of boating?

The current regulations only allow for fishing, so other types of boating appear to be prohibited for now. Boating between the islands is banned and raft-ups are not allowed.

What are the rules on wearing masks?

Masks should be worn by anyone indoors in a public place who cannot maintain a social distance of six feet, the regulations state. Masks should also be worn in taxis or when ride sharing.

Masks must be worn indoors, in public places.

There are various exemptions available based on medical grounds. Business owners may bar entry to anyone who refuses to wear a mask without a legitimate medical excuse.

Does my child have to wear a mask?

Anyone over the age of 2 is required to wear a mask, subject to the conditions and exemptions outlined above.

The regulations indicate that further guidelines will be published on the use of masks or cloth face coverings for children up to 10 years old. Those guidelines had not been released at press time. More general guidelines are available here.

Is exercise allowed every day now?

You can now exercise up to 9pm any day of the week along with up to five other people from outside your household.

Exercise can include non-contact sports, like tennis on a strata court, and is limited to a maximum of two hours. Public courts and all gyms, including strata gyms, remain closed. Contact sports like soccer or rugby are not allowed.

Are there restrictions on driving to exercise?

The regulations don’t contain any restriction on driving to exercise.

What are the new curfew times?

The hard curfew, when only essential workers and those with written exemptions can be on the road, is now from 10pm until 4.30am.

When can I get my hair cut?

No time-line has been set for the return of ‘touch services’, like hair and nail salons.

Such businesses hope they will be included in the next round of regulations later this month, but this is not yet confirmed and is dependent on the results of an ongoing island-wide testing programme.

Are church services allowed?

Church services must stay online for now. A traditional Sunday service would breach regulations on public gatherings. Weddings and funerals are allowed, but only with a maximum of 10 guests.

Is scuba diving allowed?

Scuba diving remains banned for now but Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee has suggested divers with their own gear may be able to get back in the water the next time restrictions are eased.

Several scuba operators are working on protocols to allow dive charters to resume.

Are children allowed to go out and play together?

Playgrounds remain closed and the beaches are technically only open for exercise. Children could exercise together, under the same restrictions as adults, but there is no exemption that would allow less-structured play, for example, building sand castles at the beach. Social-distancing guidelines still apply to all interactions.

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