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Coronavirus: Hospitality venues to protest SafePass rules (Updated)

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Photo: Christos Theodorides

The hospitality sector is trying to come to grips with the requirement that business owners check that customers have a SafePass, with one association planning a protest on Friday and three others saying that in the case of catering establishments, responsibility should rest with the actual customer and not the owner.

Saying that it is very difficult for businesses to keep track of everyone at their establishment, Fanos Leventis, general secretary of the association of owners of hospitality centres (Pasika) told the Cyprus Mail that members of the association would be staging a protest against the requirement on Friday.

They will meet around 10.30am at the GSP stadium where they will announce whether they will protest outside the presidential palace or Larnaca International airport, or at both locations.

Their protest is expected to take place before Friday’s cabinet meeting where officials are expected to review the epidemiological situation and the possibility of implementing further measures.

Three other associations members of the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB) issued a joint statement on Thursday in support of the SafePass as “possibly the only tool” to protect public health in crowded places but added catering establishments faced difficulties in carrying out checks on customers.

The three associations – the recreation centres association, the association of nightclubs owners and the association of events professionals – said the SafePass was useful in protecting the health of clients and personnel, allowing the continued operation of their establishments.

Nightclubs, discos, and receptions halls can check the SafePass of customers as the overwhelming majority employ health and safety staff, they said.

But catering establishments cannot carry out checks because they do not have the appropriate staff because of a general shortage of personnel and cannot assign a specific employee the role particularly on busy days, they added.

“Therefore, we believe that responsibility for possessing a SafePass in catering establishments should rest with the clients themselves and not those responsible for the businesses and the state should be responsible for implementing and monitoring the measures,” they said.

Earlier on Thursday, Leventis said Pasika would be going ahead with Friday’s protest unless additional communication with the health ministry by late Thursday changes things.

The association representative said the members want to show they are “ready to take measures” but he also added he was concerned “the government might act vindictively against us”.

The main issues lie on the difficulty to constantly monitor who enters the business’ premises, which might include outdoor areas, as well as the staff’s refusal to take on the responsibility of checking that people have a SafePass.

“Everything is very difficult…I am very sad that they cannot yet realise the difficulty to carry out checks in a place where there is no central entrance,” Leventis said. He added that some businesses, who had initially started carrying out checks realised afterwards that it was near impossible to keep track of all their customers.

Apart from Pasyka, who have been outspoken about their disagreement with the specific measure, other business owners have suspended the operation of dine-in areas and events to avoid becoming police officers and discriminate against the unvaccinated.

“Employees are refusing to carry out those checks because they will be criminally liable if something happens,” the association’s representative added.

Since the implementation of this measure, businesses’ turnover has fallen by 60 per cent, Leventis said, coupled with the fact that they are only allowed to operate at 50 per cent of their capacity.

The association had previously suggested the labour ministry to assign unemployed people to work at the establishments and check customers have a SafePass

 

 

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