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Governor Bryan To Ease Restrictions For Territory’s Bars and Restaurants

CHRISTIANSTED — During his COVID-19 briefing today, Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. said he is easing restrictions on bars and restaurants and will allow restaurants to cater to dine-in patrons and permit bars to reopen on May 26 under certain conditions.

Restaurants can offer dine-in service at 50 percent capacity or 50 customers, whichever is less. They also must place tables at least six feet apart and not accept parties any larger than six people, and bars also must space bar stools six feet apart.

All servers and other employees of bars and restaurants must wear facial coverings, and the establishments must provide proper hygiene and sanitization stations for employees and patrons.

“We will be putting out more specific guidelines in the executive order this weekend, but generally our guidelines follow those of the CDC and the National Restaurant Association,” Bryan said. “By opening prior to our relaxation of the leisure travel restrictions, we hope to give these establishments an opportunity to properly outfit their establishments and to recall their staff to prepare for the return of visitors to the territory.”

Meanwhile, not everyone on social media was impressed with the governor’s plans.

“‘Restaurants must wear facial coverings, and the establishments must provide proper hygiene and sanitization stations for employees and patrons,’“ Xiomara Francis wrote on Facebook. “Yet the supermarkets were not forced to do the same…. Albert obviously don’t know what he is doing.”

Bryan also said the 24-bed facility at the Regional Training Institute in the Virgin Islands National Guard armory complex in Estate Bethlehem. He also said the territory continues stockpiling ventilators, and there is sufficient supply of the anti-viral medicine Remdesivir to treat up to 15 patients.

There will not be a COVID-19 update on Monday, which is the Memorial Day holiday, and the next briefing will be on Thursday, May 28, unless there is breaking news.

Stimulus checks

  • This week, 6,132 stimulus checks totaling $9,985,611 were mailed out.
  • To date, just more than 12,400 checks have been mailed out totaling about $20 million.

YES credits

  • To date, 15,731 residential customers received a $250 credit and 3,167 commercial ratepayers have received a $500 credit.

Unemployment benefits

  • Applications continue to be processed, and, to date, the Labor Department has received 8,074 unemployment applications since April 7.
  • 6,429 checks totaling about $4.6 million have been issued.

Paycheck Protection Program

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved 1,260 applications.
  • To date, businesses have received $112,608,137 in Paycheck Protection Program funding.
  • 104 businesses have been approved for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which provide up to $2 million of financial assistance to small businesses or private non-profit organizations that suffered economic injury because of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases

  • Currently tracking two active cases
  • 1,428 individuals tested to date
  • 1,327 of those tests were negative
  • 69 tests came back positive
  • 61 recovered
  • 32 tests are pending
  • Six deaths to date
  • No COVID-19 patients are hospitalized at Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix.
  • One COVID-19 patient is hospitalized on a ventilator at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas. The patient was aboard a vessel in severe respiratory distress and was allowed into the territory for medical treatment and was immediately quarantined in accordance with strict medical protocol.
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