The Trinidad and Tobago Beverage Alcohol Alliance (TTBAA) says at least 100,000 people who worked in the hospitality sector are now unemployed.

Chairman of the TTBAA, Dr Patrick Antoine, says even though bars can open and serve on the go, it has not been making financial sense for many of them, who are choosing to remain closed as a result.

Speaking on CNC3’s the morning brew today Dr Antoine said the workers have been the hardest hit.

“We know that there are 120-something thousand persons working in the sector—bars, the hotels as well the restaurants. Most of these people are unemployed. So really, our figure we’ve been working with, for statistical purposes, is about 100,000 persons in the sector that are not now working,” he explained.

The TTBAA chairman says their main concern at present is finding a way to bring economic activity back to the sector, to generate business and employment.  He also said his members are happy that taxes pertaining to their sector were not increased, but said a plan must be established to foster economic activity.

“We see small mom and pop operations and small family businesses where they inject a lot of their equity into their business and they’ve done the right things. How do we bring them back to work by creating the kind of environment that’s responsible,” he points out, “where they have done the right things by getting all of the various infrastructure changes made to be compliant with the guidelines and with the protocols? How do we give them a chance to benefit from doing the right things at the right time and at high cost?”

Dr Antoine also called on the government to treat with the people who are breaking COVID regulations and allow the others to operate.

“It is a heartbreak for us when we hear that people have borrowed and used the last reserves that they have to get their enterprises in shape, but they are still not able to function,” he said. “I am making a heavy plea on this one because we have to find a way to reward people in our society that do the right thing.

“Now let me say there are a lot of them that don’t do the right thing. The view of the sector is ‘well, punish them; don’t punish us all’,” Dr Antoine added.

The TTBAA chairman says there must be a ‘whole of society’ approach to rebuilding the economy in the post-COVID era, ensuring that policies going forward incorporate inputs from the health sector, occupational health and safety as well as economic considerations.