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The blocked off food court at Nicholas Towers, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, after in-house dining was banned by management in accordance with the Prime Minister’s call.

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One day after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley called for the closure of bars and for corporate responsibility among businesses to limit large gatherings to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), entertainment and leisure businesses in Chaguanas and Port-of-Spain have begun to comply.

“We took a decision to close today until further notice..it wasn’t easy but at the end of the day it has to be done,” director of Rise Up along Rodney Road in Chaguanas told Guardian Media yesterday during a tour of establishments in Central and North Trinidad.

Others such as Andy’s Bar along the Caroni Savannah road were partially opened.

“I just opened the parlour side of it to accommodate for the villagers who working, buying little soft drinks, cokes whatever,” owner Bhagwandeen Mansingh said.

Establishments such as Woodford Cafe at Price Plaza, Wing Hua and Kai Mi on the Caroni Savannah Road also had signs up indicating only take out orders were being permitted.

Similarly, manager of Frankies on Ariapita Avenue Glen Diaz said his establishment was only allowing customers to purchase takeout.

“We have to comply. It’s not something that’s against the business sector. It’s nothing against you personally. It’s what it is. It’s a virus and we need to get control of it,” he said.

Diaz also indicated they intend to begin doing deliveries as well to further minimise the risks.

The Five Star Private Members’ Club casino at Price Plaza was also closed with a sign on its door stating it was done “in accordance with Government guidelines to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

However, the Royal Princess Casino remained open. Asked about their decision, the manager told Guardian Media they implemented protocols to protect against the virus such as limiting the number of patrons allowed inside at once to less than 25 and regular sanitation of their machines.

MovieTowne also indicated in a release yesterday indicated all their cinemas would be closed from March 18 and would reopen on April 1 “pending any further developments.”

“As a responsible corporate citizen we must make the lives, health and safety of our loyal patrons, staff and community our top priority,” the statement read.

Some vendors at the Chaguanas market were observed taking measures to protect themselves and customers. Some were seen wearing gloves and another was seen sanitizing their counter.

“We just making sure everything’s clean, everything’s sanitized and everybody’s comfortable when they’re buying,” vendor Caitlan Lutchman said.

On Monday Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley requested that bars remain closed in order to prevent people from gathering in large groups and spreading the COVID-19.

He said restaurants weren’t being asked to close but curbside service over in-house dining would be preferable since in-house dining causes congregating which increases transmission spread. “This is for a short time … we’re aiming to create a semi-sterile environment, so don’t make it difficult by congregating.”

The Prime Minister and his ministers all stressed that citizens should avoid congregations of more than 25 people.

The Government is yet to the necessary measures to make these initiatives lawfully enforceable.