Last Updated on Thursday, 16 July 2020, 15:23 by Denis Chabrol
Even as Guyana recorded its 19th coronavirus-related death on Thursday, the National COVID-19 Task Force has announced plans to implement the third phase of it’s reopening proposal which will see current curfew hours extended, and private and public sector employees returning to work on a rotation basis.
The task force confirmed that the new phase will take effect from Saturday, July 18 and continue until July 31, 2020.
As part of the new measures, the curfew hours have been reduced and will now begin at 20:00 hrs (8PM) and end at 6:00 hrs (6 AM) daily, and outdoor dining will now be permitted from 6:00 hrs (6 AM) to 18:00 hrs. (6PM).
Even with the 6 PM to 6 AM curfew that has been in effect for almost three months now, there has been unrestricted street-side food vending in several parts of Georgetown after 6 PM late into the night.
However, these new measures will not apply for Regions Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East-Berbice Corentyne) during Monday to Fridays, only on Saturdays and Sundays. Further, the 6:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs curfew will remain in effect for Aranka/Arangoy/Moruca until August 3, 2020.
According to the Department of Public Information, the Task Force has also announced the reopening of several categories of businesses, particularly food services and restaurants are permitted to be open for delivery, drive-thru, curb-side pick-up and take away service from 6:00 hrs to midnight daily. Outdoor dining at restaurants will also be permitted from 6:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs under strict COVID-19 guidelines.
Meanwhile, private sector construction will also be permitted to resume, and clothing, shoes and book stores are permitted to resume operations. Also public transportation services, except in Aranka, Arangoy and Moruca, are permitted to operate at a 75 percent passenger capacity. While all persons will still be required to wear a face mask in public at all times, no more than 10 persons will be allowed to gather at any place. However, all ports of entry in Guyana will remain closed.
Further, the Task Force has given the green light for the resumption of office work in the public and private sectors which will also take effect from July 18, 2020, and will see scores of employees who were remotely working from home for months now returning to the office. This will be done on a rotation basis.
According to the new orders, all persons employed within the public service, a semi-autonomous agency, statutory body or sstate-owned enterprise shall not work remotely from home but shall work on rotation unless otherwise instructed by their respective minister or head agency.
Employers are expected to ensure that appropriate COVID-19 guidelines are prepared and implemented to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus among workers.
Despite these new measures there have been an increasing number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The country now has a total of 313 confirmed cases and earlier Wednesday the Public Health Ministry confirmed that Guyana has recorded another COVID-19 related death.