Hotel owner Kirton Sorias has called for the entire private sector to get serious about their livelihoods and stop liming and gathering.
Sorias’ plea comes on the heels of the Prime Minister’s announcement on Thursday of stricter measures to fight covid19.
The measures, which include closing restaurants, bars, casinos, cinemas, malls and gyms, will stay in place until May 23.
Dr Rowley’s action came after covid19 cases skyrocketed in late April, 223 cases were announced on Wednesday, 328 on Thursday and 326 on Friday.
Sorias, restaurant and bar director of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association, said in a WhatsApp voice note on Friday, “I am not surprised by the lockdown whatsoever. I said it before, that there’s going to be another lockdown.”
Rowley said on Thursday that the police will be taking action on private properties where public health risks may be evident.
The Government had previously made a distinction between gathering on private and public properties.
Nevertheless, Sorias said, “I want to call on the private-sector workers, the business people, to boycott all limes, all get-togethers, all house parties, from now on. Because the end of the day, we are the ones suffering. The businesspeople are the ones going to suffer, the workers in the private sector going to suffer.”
Sorias, the owner of Serene Inn, said there have been mass cancellations since Rowley’s address.
He said Caribbean Airlines has been informing customers about fewer flights and people are rushing to leave Tobago or cancelling bookings.
“At the end of the day, the same people you going to lime with that work with the government – their salary in the bank, and you going to suffer now.
“I’m calling on all hotel, restaurant and bar workers: boycott all limes, all parties. We need our business to open by next month. We need this thing to stop.”
Sorias said most of the hotels on the island are at almost zero occupancy and the money made at Easter has dried up.
“It’s very difficult…The bills are still coming.”
Sorias said Rowley needs to address the negative impact of the new measures on business workers and the general population.
“I’m calling on the Prime Minister to sit down with the private sector, NGOs, to have a meeting.
“You need, as the Prime Minister, to have a conversation with the banks.
“I heard nothing yesterday about the landlords, about the furniture stores.
“Sit and have a meeting with these people, because if you put people out of a bread, you need to have some sort of support system in place. You can’t tell me that they have no jobs and you expect them to pay the furniture stores, you expect them to pay their rent, you expect them to pay the banks. It is not possible. And I heard nothing mentioned yesterday.”
Rowley had previously warned that if the country had to return to strict lockdown, there would be no further money for relief.
On Thursday he clarified his previous statement, saying: “Let me repeat that. What I said is, we will not be in a position to be as helpful as the beginning, because the money is just not there.
“A lot of it was borrowed money.
“We came through the year 2020 during reasonably good. But 2021, we are now called upon again. What I was saying is: don’t be irresponsible to think, ‘Nothing ent go happen that we can’t deal with.’ It will be a serious challenge.”
Rowley said the Ministry of Finance will now have to look to preserve its social-services support system.
“All the help that we give, it turns up in the bottom line into millions and millions of dollars.
“We do not have the resources now to be as helpful as we were last year. This kind of situation is another pain for persons. How far we can go, I cannot say as yet.”