Gym owner refuses to follow new SafeKey rules, bar owners claim they are “soft targets” – The Royal Gazette


Karen Hodgkins at Magnum Power Force Gym (file photo)

Reed Young, second from right, with staff and managers of the Docksider Pub & Restaurant (file photo)

Nigel Prescott, owner of Tam-Marina, lost around $ 300,000 throughout the Covid-19 pandemic (File photo)

Yesterday, a gym owner said she would refuse to follow government regulations requiring members to have a SafeKey.

Karen Hodgkins, owner of Magnum Power Force Gym on Church Street in Pembroke, said for the gym to survive it would be “normal business”.

She said The Royal Gazette: “I’m not doing it – I’m not going to do the SafeKey. I will face the consequences. I think the practice is discriminatory, it does not make the gym safer because the vaccinated can still carry the virus.

“I don’t think SafeKey is reasonable for a gym with regular members, it’s unrealistic.”

The Department of Health and the police have the power to shut down businesses that violate public health regulations.

Ms Hodgkins joined a chorus of voices opposing new measures that require patrons of indoor food establishments, bars, clubs and sports clubs as well as gyms and fitness facilities to prove they are immune or do not have the Covid-19 virus.

Under new public safety regulations due to take effect today, a SafeKey QR code will be required for anyone frequenting indoor public spaces where masks can be removed.

SafeKey will also be required to board all island vessels over 20 passengers and all new exemptions for large groups.

Travelers who are not required to self-quarantine will receive their SafeKey with negative test results.

Ms Hodgkins, a former One Bermuda Alliance candidate, said her gym had followed all other safety measures.

She added: “We followed all the rules – we clean and wipe down the machines. We are one of the cleanest places, to quote an incident that originated in the gyms. Our members come in with a mask, stay six feet away. I think we are penalized. I think no business should be penalized.

“People who are vaccinated can carry the virus, the SafeKey will not do what it is supposed to do. “

Reed Young, the owner of the Docksider Pub & Restaurant on Front Street, said the measures were unfair because the spikes in the Covid cases were not coming from restaurants or bars.

He said: “I think we are an easy target for increased restrictions, we are places of people, but I think none of the spikes are from restaurants and bars. The government is trying to get people vaccinated by making life difficult for those who are not.

“I’m pro-vaccination but I think it’s unfair targeting. Every time they tighten it, it comes back to us.

Mr Reed said he expected business to decline due to the new regulations and said it could put jobs at risk as less money flows in.

Nigel Prescott, owner of a boat rental company, called the new measures “devastating”.

He said he was forced to cancel a charter he booked on one of his ships tonight because the government failed to give enough notice to all guests to get a SafeKey.

“Everyone has to have SafeKey, it can’t happen that fast. It was thrown at us and now we have to cancel everyone – there were about 65 people on board. If it had started on Monday it would have made a huge difference, but they launched it late last night. [Wednesday] for Friday night. It is not fair.”

Mr Prescott said his business was dead in the water for most of the pandemic, but faced the same costs.

He added, “We paid all the boat license fees, the liquor license fees for a year and a half and we never carried a passenger or sold any drink. We never got a dime back. I contacted all the ministries, and even the Prime Minister, but received no response. Then they increase the license fees for pleasure craft.

The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation announced last year that a refund “due to unanticipated impact” was available to businesses that had already paid for their liquor license.

Mr Prescott said his company, Ta-Marina, which charters two large vessels, Lady Tamara and Lady Charlotte, and a smaller vessel, the boss lady, lost approximately $ 300,000 due to the pandemic.

Karl Massam, head of the catering division of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, met with several restaurateurs yesterday and said the consensus was that they were frustrated that the hotel industry and restaurants were at the forefront of more measures. restrictive.

He said: “Restaurants are already reporting cancellations of group reservations and family reservations, which we can hardly afford.

“While we all understand the need to protect our community and vulnerable people, the burden cannot be placed solely on restaurants and hospitality. “

Mr Massam, speaking only in his capacity as Managing Director of the Yellowfin catering group, added: “Personally, I think most establishments follow current guidelines and that the safety of our customers and staff is paramount. . If there are establishments that do not follow the guidelines, it is the companies that should be penalized.

“The last two epidemics have come from individuals who acted irresponsibly and / or stepped out into the community.

“My hope is that the SafeKey initiative will be short lived for restaurants, as it is not the answer to preventing the spread of Covid in the community. “

Mr Massam said there was some relief among restaurant owners that there were no lockdowns, take-out or other “crippling” measures in place.

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