Bar industry has passed tipping point


Some patrons gather outside a bar along Independence Square, Port of Spain in April. – AYANNA KINSALE

The Barkeepers and Operators Association (BOATT) is “deeply troubled” and concerned about the latest restrictions imposed on the bar industry.

It issued a press release after the Prime Minister’s announcement that all food-selling will be banned until May 23.

“The industry has been grappling with closures and restrictions for the past 14 months with that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel moving further and further away. Bar owners, operators and employees cannot withstand another closure without government’s intervention in a positive way,” the release said.

BOATT is in talks with the Ministry of Finance on small and micro-enterprise loan access and grants.

“We are still breathlessly awaiting a positive response from the ministry. BOATT understands the need for government to protect the citizenry from the wrath of covid19, but this must not be done at the detriment of the business fraternity and its employees.”

The release said businesses must be held responsible for their actions, but should not be penalised for the population’s lack of discipline and disobedience of guidelines and regulations.

It argued, “The food and beverage sector has been bearing the brunt and burden of restrictions and regulations since the start of the pandemic.”

BOATT said the sector has passed tipping point, with its only saviour being proactive suggestions and discussions to propel the sector out of doom and into some form of normality.

“We are urging all business chambers and relevant associations to come forth with proactive recommendations to assist government in its decision making process when it comes to the restriction of normal business activity. “

BOATT said it is willing to work alongside any and all stakeholders in channelling initiatives towards the government for discussions and implementation.

It said the country was “in dire need of help. The government alone cannot win the battle against this dreaded virus. We must all act, behave and do our part in a responsible manner. Now is not the time to cast blame on any one group or individual and we must not take a political approach to the situation but rather unite our strength and minds to chart a new way forward.”

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