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A bartender waits on customers at the The Avenue Pub House on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain.

Government has now allocated $30 million to bail out restaurant and bar employees and people who are self-employed.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced on Saturday that the Government has allocated an additional $10 million for employees of bars and restaurants who have “lost their jobs and suffered a reduction in income.” He said $20 million has also been allocated for people who are “self-employed and are now unable to make ends meet.”

Rowley was speaking at the COVID-19 press conference held at the Division of Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour conference room at Glen Road, Scarborough.

He said while people were expecting that the Government would remove the restriction on the in-house consumption of alcohol at bars and restaurants, a decision was taken to maintain the measure because “bars are in the business of encouraging congregation and congregation is the danger.”

The Prime Minister said that the Government also understands the position that those affected now face.

“We are restricting them to protect all of us, so we need to share the burden with them. Therefore, I have asked the Minister of Finance to find an additional $10 million to specifically deal with employees of restaurants and bars.”

Bar and restaurant owners who would have lost or are losing their businesses were encouraged to avail themselves of the finances previously allocated for “small business support.” Dr Rowley, however, assured that the Government would treat bars and restaurants with some element of urgency.

The Prime Minister added that the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services will also provide assistance for citizens who are “suffering additional hardship.”

According to the Prime Minister, the $20 million will be available for disbursement among people who were making a living through avenues which no longer exists. He referred to vendors at sporting events and similar small business owners throughout the country.

“There were citizens making it on their own, making that way living on the margin and that margin has receded from them and they are on the brink of destitution.”

He said each case will have to be verified but the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services will be “relatively generous between now and January,” especially where children are involved. The Prime Minister also publicly appealed to public servants to “be empathetic” when people come to the various public offices seeking to apply for the funds.

Meanwhile, casinos will now join cinemas by allowing the consumption of food in-house.

Announcements:

*No Christmas parties at government offices, state corporations

*Private sector, families asked to do same

*$10 million to assist those affected by bar restrictions

*$20 million to assist affected self-employed

*Food services to resume in casinos

*Bars and restaurants will continue to have takeaway services only.

*Hunting to resume

*T&T’s borders remain closed, but exemptions continue to be granted for nationals choosing to return home as well as for those who wish to leave.