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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks during a media conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, yesterday.

The manufacturing sector and car dealerships got the green light to resume business from Monday as Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced plans for the phased reopening of the country.

In another welcome move, Rowley on Saturday announced that restaurants and the food sector will be allowed to reopen for drive-through, curbside and takeaway services only from July 19, observing all health protocols.

Rowley also lifted the ban on all outdoor activities, including exercise, limiting to groups of five people.

There was relief as the Prime Minister made the welcome announcement at the COVID-19 update at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.

“The next big group of people that we would try to get back to some semi-normal arrangement is the food establishment and restaurants. You have a week to prepare.

“Once we go back to the food service tens of thousands of people would be interacting again and you add that to the construction workers and you’d see that we are in fact exposing more and more people in parallel with the major vaccination programme,” he said.

“We would like to begin on July 19 so you have a week to prepare,” he said.

“It is for good reason that we start this on Monday and not on Friday or Saturday. I would love to announce Friday but I know exactly what is going to happen. I know my people.”

Rowley said he wanted to avoid the “effects of the euphoria.”

“Take it slowly. I know you missing the doubles but remember, when you go in line, stay six feet away from the person in front of you and wear your mask and clean hands, always,” he said.

The construction sector opened last week and some 40,000 people were brought back into that sector.

With regards to outdoor exercise, the Prime Minister said team sports are still not allowed.

Rowley said he expects to have more restrictions rolled back by the end of July and be back to some semblance of normalcy by August.

The country is expected to open the borders by July 19 and Rowley said that two days before that there would be more details on how the airlines would make it work. On Wednesday the Ministries of Health and National Security will be hosting a media conference where they are expected to give a detailed explanation of the reopening of the airports and the process to ensure it is safely managed.

At the end of April, restaurants and bars were shut down and remained closed for almost three months.

In that time, there have been many complaints about the complete shuttering of the food establishments. One major restaurant, Chaud, has announced that it will shut down while another, El Pecos, re-registered as a market and sold its prepared and pre-packaged food alongside grocery items and goods.

There have been calls over the past few months for the food sector to reopen with restrictions on in-house dining, some have called for the restaurant to be reopened to allow for the same curbside and delivery services that will be available from July 19.

The announcement:

*All restaurants, food establishments, itinerant and non-itinerant food services will be allowed to provide drive-through, curbside and takeaway services from July 19. No consumption of food will be allowed on site.

*The resumption of outdoor exercise and activity in public spaces, limited to groups of five (July 19).

From July 12:

*All sectors of manufacturing will be allowed to resume.

*The reopening of car dealerships.

*Further removal of restrictions will be announced at the end of July.

*A shipment of 800,000 doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine is expected to arrive on July 13.