The minister was speaking directly to critics who claimed that the authorities were picking on bars.
The Environmental Health Division had said the bars were fined and shut because they were overcrowded and no social distancing was being practised.
“The bars are saying that we are picking on them, we are not picking on them really because if we have 200 people in a crowded space, you picking on yourself,” Hon Malone said while being interviewed by the host of the Honestly Speaking radio programme, Mr Claude O. Skelton Cline on ZBVI 780AM on September 14, 2021.
“When you [patrons] are done, you go back home, your kid goes to school, your wife or husband goes to work, you go to church, you go to all of the unsuspecting places. Persons then who did not know because you are only going to have a number of people be identified only when travelling, people would provide contact traces, and people identify as local cases; we have issues,” he remarked.
Hon Malone said persons may not appreciate what the Chief Environmental Health Officer is doing but it is what is required to keep the people safe and the economy open.
“The reason why we are talking the way we talk is because at the end of the day we had to put two $1,000 fines. The institutions are basically not best friends with the Chief Environmental Health Officer because we have to get folks to understand that this is not wanting your $1,000, it is not wanting your $10,000, it is about keeping our economy open, making sure that it is fully adhered to, so the bars, the nightclubs, all of them they want to open up for longer periods,” he pleaded.
Hon Malone said what is facing the territory is the potential of another spike such as what was experienced recently, where more than 1600 persons tested positive for COVID-19, and 36 persons died.