Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speak during a Media Conference at Diplomatic Centre yesterday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has banned all prepared and pre-packaged foods for sale and hardware are to be closed for the next week.

Rowley announced the additional restrictions on Saturday at the COVID-19 update hosted at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.

“It has come to our attention that many restaurants or store owners of one kind or the other have responded to the requirement of the closure of restaurants by somehow, in a closed restaurant is having food prepared and packaged to be sold elsewhere,” he said.

Rowley said that while that may be good for the restaurant, it would undermine what the Government was trying to achieve.

“One which is to keep people away from work, so somebody is working in those kitchens, two encouraging people to come out and go and get this prepared food and in fact are congregating at places of distribution,” he said.

Rowley said that while it may be safer to serve the food at the restaurants, it was counterproductive to the bottom line.

“So today, regulations are being prepared to ensure that it is crystal clear that closure means closure. Restaurants are closed,” he said.

“Prepared food services and service delivery would not be available in the coming days and along with that hardware, we will close hardware for the next week. Closed.”

Rowley said that people have gone around the regulations and used the same staff to prepare food to be sold elsewhere.

“The population is responding to that by congregating,” he said. He said those who sought to circumvent the regulations were just creating situations for virus spread.

There are two holidays next week as Arrival Day is on Monday and Corpus Christi is on Thursday.

“It is very complicated to try and take action to treat with these, except that we do not want people to congregate,” he said.

Rowley said the Government weighed the possibility of a tighter curfew period but from an operational standpoint, it would not give the result needed.

“It will only encourage people to react to the shortened time by rushing to these places of service,” he said.

Rowley said that in the days that followed those congregations, there would be a spike of COVID-19 numbers.

The restrictions do not include essential catering for offshore workers.

With regard to the hardware lockdown, Rowley said that with construction closed, there should be no rush to the hardware. He said there was a plan to open them on a rotation basis, once the week of shutdown is over.

Supermarkets and bakeries will be allowed to continue the sale of foods.

“They are required to be observant of the protocols,” he said.