Bar owners and managers said yesterday that the government implemented a somewhat “Peter pay for Paul, Paul pay for all” reaction when it cut down their opening hours.
National Security Minister Stuart Young announced yesterday that because of the behaviours of bar patrons and the ineffectiveness of a few bar operators to control gatherings over the weekend, bars are now allowed to open between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm.
For bar owners and managers in San Fernando, this is a regressive move against a sector that shut its doors for three months.
“We were now getting a chance to earn something with the hours of eight to 10. Now it is eight to eight. You need to remember that people finish work at 5 o’clock and during the day, people are not really drinking much. From 5 to 10, we were making a reasonable sale that could hopefully sustain us,” Shane Marshall of Marshall’s corner said.
While the government’s rationale was the behaviour of a few bars, he said each bar has its own circumstance.
Marshall said most people do not stay long at the bar, so there is no issue with social distancing.
“One bad apple should not spoil the whole bunch,” was Michael Bascombe’s take on the reduced hours.
At the Sea View Bar at King’s Wharf which he manages, Bascombe sat at the entrance, ensuring everyone applied hand sanitiser before entering. He said the scenes of bars in North Trinidad are different from what takes place in South.
“There are bars that are following all the procedures and protocols, so I believe they should take that into consideration. There are people who are doing what they are supposed to do so why do we have to feel the brunt of the law pertaining to the behaviours of just a few,” Bascombe said.
At D’Pub along Quenca Street, Anand Chatoor felt the closing hour should remain at 10 pm and let the police enforce the law.
D’Pub is a popular after-work liming spot but is trying to recover after months of closure.
Chatoor said while the government sees the change as a preventative measure, the open hours did not pose a danger.
“It is hard because our bills are mounting. Regular customers are coming, but I do not know what will happen now that we have to close at 8 pm. Normally when people finish work, around six or seven, they will come and make a little small lime,” Chatoor said.
Some bar patrons said the move was a knee-jerk reaction and not well thought out. Kino Bethel said he understands the plight of bar owners, especially those who made investments before the partial shutdown of the economy.
“Yes we know what is going on with the coronavirus, but if our borders are closed, we do not have any coronavirus here. All the cases we got are cases that came into our country.
“Do you all care about the people who had their places closed for three to four months? Open the place, leave the borders close and let the money circulate. Let the people live,” Bethel said.
He said the police should crack down on errant bar owners and patrons, but allow law-abiding businesses to carry on.