Some food service businesses at Sheraton Mall have disputed claims by COVID-19 Czar Richard Carter that they are not adhering to anti-virus protocols.
While they acknowledged there were times when servers’ masks were partially removed, the operators said this was because customers could not understand what they were saying with the mask covering their mouth and nose.
Over the weekend, Carter told a Barbados Labour Party branch meeting at Milton Lynch Primary School, that he had reported eight businesses in the Sheraton Mall Food Court to the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit because he saw mask-less employees interacting with customers.
But when Barbados TODAY visited the Sargeant’s Village, Christ Church mall, several of those businesses maintained that they had been following the protocols.
They explained there were some times when it was necessary to pull down their masks.
“From what I know the protocols are followed here. The wearing of the mask is a new invention in Barbados…this has never been the situation so we are going to falter because we are not perfect,” said owner of IV Play deli Phillip Forrester.
“For the record, all of the tenants here are compliant, but there are times where there is an issue with communicating with customers because it is difficult to be audible within the confines of the mask, so sometimes we ease the mask down a little bit.
“But if the powers that be pass in that fleeting moment and they see that, the perception is that we are not following the protocols, but if you stand here for ten to 15 minutes you will recognize that is not the case.”
A supervisor at Pizza Man Doc, who asked to remain anonymous, echoed the same sentiments.
She said the only time masks were partially removed by employees was to interact with customers who had difficulty hearing them.
The supervisor said: “The staff always follows the protocols. Sometimes we do pull down our masks to speak to customers, but it doesn’t happen very often. We always make sure to follow the protocols as it relates to providing hand sanitizer and cleaning surfaces regularly. In fact, the same masks that we wear home aren’t the same masks we work with because we have different masks to work in”
Over at The Sultan Restaurant, a supervisor said that while staff too was following the strict protocols, masks were lowered intermittently to speak to customers.
But, she said once the conversation was finished, masks were properly worn over the mouth and nose.
An employee at Piggies said it was uncomfortable to keep a mask on for a whole nine-hour shift.
She said while most times workers would “go into the back” if they wanted to take off their masks, at times it was not always possible.
“It’s really hard to keep a mask on for so long, especially for me since I am an asthmatic,” she said.
“It isn’t easy for customers either because sometimes when they are placing their orders we can’t understand what they are saying and vice-versa, so we have to ease down our masks, but that doesn’t mean we are breaking the protocols.” [email protected]