Customers wait in line to buy Indian delicacies in a car park in Marabella yesterday.

Buy your food outside and carry it home to eat because police can charge you for eating it at the vendors’ sites – and Government might be forced to halt food businesses again.

This was the warning from National Security Minister Stuart Young at yesterday’s daily COVID-19 media update as food sector business restarted in phase one of Government’s COVID- 19 reopening plan.

While food businesses were allowed to operate again is was only allowed for pick-up as in-house dining is still debarred and until 8 pm daily. But Young said Government had been getting reports and photos of people congregating at vendors’ sites and standing very closely together, against the physical distancing call by Government.

“Public Health regulations state that people aren’t allowed to consume the food (they’ve bought) at a purchase site. So please be responsible – buy your food and take it home to eat, get it and move on,” Young said.

“To eat it on-site will be a breach of the regulations and police will be entitled to charge you for that – they’ll step up efforts to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.

“If we see this congregating continuing we may well revert (to closure of food places) again, we’re not afraid to pull back (reopening) to protect the public from COVID-19.”

Young displayed pictures taken yesterday morning of people lining up to buy food from a van – but one customer was seen eating the food on-site, off to one side.

He said the Police Commissioner spoke with his executive last Sunday and officers would have spoken to teams.

“Police will continue doing a great job but please work with them so we won’t have to charge anybody,” he urged.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh added it was against regulations for people to consume food where they bought it.

“So eating on-site will encourage us to pull back phase one. Vendors will have to play a part in discouraging people eating on-site – that will slingshot us back to last week (before measures were relaxed),” Deyalsingh said.

Young said since physical distancing is also needed, vendors are being asked to place markers for that in their spaces for customers to heed.

Under the latest regulations, maxis and taxis must still carry only 50 per cent capacity and public gatherings in open spaces are still restricted to five. Access to beaches, rivers, ponds and springs is still barred.

Young also said tyre and auto part shops aren’t part of services allowed to be open but said authorities knew some of these shops were operating clandestinely. While exercising outdoors is now allowed, he reminded that team sports with more than five people will breach regulations.

He added that agriculture work including land preparation – planting, reseeding et cetera – can continue freely.