By Amin Kef Sesay

Bar, restaurant, club and hotels owners were engaged by the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourism Board and the National Corona Virus Emergency Response Centre (NaCOVERC) at the Family Kingdom Resort, Aberdeen in Freetown on the way forward regarding COVID-19 enhanced measures compliance at public spaces. The engagement was done at the Family Kingdom Resort, Aberdeen in Freetown.

The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt emphasized the importance of the engagement given that it is geared towards providing guidelines for the operation of bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels.

She noted the undeniable fact that COVID-19 has unprecedentedly ravaged the hospitality sector but informed the gathering that they are determined to minimize the effect on the sector by taking the necessary precautions.

The Tourism Minster encouraged and appealed to all in the sector to take the vaccine and raise the awareness of the importance of vaccination especially as that will ensure a cluster immunity boost capable of protecting more people.

She stated that the international community is now ranking the percentage of people vaccinated in a country which she said would determine the number of people that would come to the country. She called on those in the sector to be serious about vaccination in order to get the sector back on track.

The Spokesperson for NaCOVERC, Solomon Jamiru remarked on how the Pandemic is taking a different turn making life more difficult for most people. He mentioned that as the fight against the virus continues, the key decision to scale down restrictions is informed by the epidemiological data. He mentioned that as the third wave of the virus continues to strike, the priority of the Government is to protect the lives of its citizens, noting that the current nature of restrictions on entertainment and the hospitality sector continue to be in force.

He called on the sector to be forward looking and provide a sense of the model of restriction that they would consider and the framework NaCOVERC and other stakeholders would consider for safe resumption of activities in the sector and assured them that Government is ready to listen and consider.

He said Government itself wants to see resumption of normal business operations but as a government they would not compromise public health and the only mechanism for protection is vaccination. To this end, he encouraged vaccination of everyone in the sector.

Business owners within the sector made a plea to the Tourism Ministry and NaCOVERC to increase sensitization around the importance of vaccination to dispel negative myths and propaganda which they said is the greatest obstacle to compliance currently.

Courtesy of Calabash 1 September 2021

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