NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Authorities today cautioned businesses selling alcohol that “bars” remain prohibited in accordance with the COVID-19 emergency orders, adding it is a violation for liquor stores to allow patrons to drink and socialize on-site.
“If a liquor store allows patrons to drink and socialize on-site, they effectively have become a bar and violates the order and will be asked to close,” read a statement.
It follows reports that several liquor stores were ordered to close yesterday, and also on Saturday, July 11.
“Liquor stores remain open for takeout or delivery if not allowing themselves to become bars.”
When contacted, Attorney General Carl Bethel gave a similar explanation on the constraints of the emergency orders, which remain in effect until the end of the month but could be extended for up to an additional six months.
Asked about the circumstances that could lead to a liquor store being closed, Bethel said any business where sanitization, social distancing and mask wearing is not being enforced, “is liable to be shut down.”
He said he was not aware of any prohibition on liquor stores.
Speaking to Eyewitness News on Monday, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said he was unaware of liquor stores being shut down, but expressed confidence in the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s determinations to uphold the law.
As the government ordered all non-essential businesses to close amid the pandemic, liquor stores shut their doors in mid-March.
But these businesses remain closed even after the government allowed a partial resumption of commercial activity.
Amid public please for the stores to be reopened, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the decision to close the liquor stores was based on the advice from medical professionals.
He also advised Parliament that allowing citizens and residents to consume alcohol would likely see an increase of non-compliance with social distancing protocols.
Liquor stores reopened on May 4 with curbside, takeaway and delivery service, as did a wider cross section of non-essential businesses.
The more than a month closure, saw a rise in bootlegging and rogue businesses attempting to provide supplies to patrons.
In April, customs officer seized multiple cases of alcohol from a business on Faith Avenue.