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Members of the Barkeepers and Operators Association Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) protest their limited opening hours opposite Whitehall in Port of Spain last Thursday. (Photo: Jermaine Cruickshank)

No extension for T&T’s bar owners

Members of the Barkeepers and Operators Association Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) protest their limited opening hours opposite Whitehall in Port of Spain last Thursday. (Photo: Jermaine Cruickshank)

Trinidad and Tobago’s bar owners will not get an extension of their opening hours due to the threat their businesses pose to the public’s health and safety.

Bar owners in Trinidad and Tobago will not receive an extension on opening hours due to the health risks associated. (Photo: World Nomads courtesy iStock/jaysunlp)

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday from the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley reminded bar owners that they run a business that makes people violate health protocols.

He said, “There are no other businesses doing that. The cake shop is not doing that. When people come out to bars the very nature of them is to hob-nob with friends. As you drink alcohol you become less responsible. Alcohol has an effect on you and that might be the reason why everybody forgets to wear masks.”

He noted, it is some people’s view, when they go out to have a good time, they are not necessarily required to be responsible.

“I see people in crowds around bars with no mask. If you are out you stay away from people…you are required to have physical distancing.”

– Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh echoed similar sentiments.

He said, “If you look globally many of the countries that have to re-lock down—the reason is because of places of social interaction where alcohol is a main driver of that social lubricant. Those entities become the local epicentres for new spread and then the entire local community of that county, that town, or city that is adversely affected. This is not about punishing bars. It is about asking both bar owners and patrons to consume your alcohol responsibly.”

Operating outside stipulated hours

Rowley highlighted an incident that was brought to his attention by a concerned citizen who witnessed a crowded bar opened past the stipulated service hours.

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley.

He said, “Consider what we have been doing for the past couple months and at great expense and great inconvenience. This group of people is putting all of us at risk. So until the police tells me that they are in a position to make a redoubling of the effort to individually prosecute people who are doing that—the best we can operationally do is to hold it where we have it now for the moment.

“When the Commissioner of Police tells me that his men and women can do that across the country then we can make an adjustment—and I hope that it will be very soon.”

Rowley again called on citizens to be responsible and wear a mask when venturing out.

Though he sympathised with the challenges bar owners are facing, Rowley remained resolved with his decision for bars to be closed by 8 p.m.

He said, “I see people in crowds around bars with no mask. If you are out you stay away from people…you are required to have physical distancing. This activity is one that is opposite to what you are trying to do. It is a difficult situation but don’t forget what the objective is. The objective is to not give the virus an opportunity to jump from one person to another. If you stop that ability then the virus in your population will lose its ability to replicate.”

Reproduced from the Trinidad Express