The Barkeepers and Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) is renewing its call for the Prime Minister to reconsider the current restrictions on bars, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, warning of impending permanent closure and bankruptcy of several of those businesses.

In their latest missive to the PM, the Association is asking Dr Rowley and the Government to consider allowing these businesses to operate at half capacity, while maintaining the strictest health and safety protocols.

The full text of the BOATT statement follows…

MEDIA RELEASE FROM THE BARKEEPERS AND OPERATORS ASSOCIATION OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

The Barkeepers and Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago is pleading with the Prime Minister to relax the present restriction on bars, to allow our businesses to operate at 50% capacity, together with the full implementation and adherence to the health guidelines at our establishments.

Bar owners, employees (and by extension, our families) have endured tremendous challenges and struggles over the past 8 months, both mentally and financially. Bar owners are struggling to make ends meet, as the current ‘buy and go’ system isn’t profitable. Rising debt has become part of the norm, while some have already witnessed their life savings, hard-work and investments vanish, and are now at the point of bankruptcy.

Presently, persons are given the opportunity with an acceptable measure of risk, to congregate in groups of ten and can consume alcohol in all public spaces in Trinidad and Tobago, except on the premises and precincts of bars which are licensed to do so. The Association is only asking for equal opportunity for bars.  The risk factor will be minimum at bars due to their controlled environments.

We have all reinvented ourselves, did personal training, and implemented all the proper health guidelines and protocols to create a safe and controlled environment for our patrons.

We urge the government, through the TTPS and health inspectorate, to hold all bar owners accountable for their individual establishments and welcome the necessary controls and fines associated with non-compliance.

If the present restrictions are not relaxed, then government financial assistance will be needed, as well as new consultations with all stakeholders on a new way forward for our industry. We are not asking for any handouts or grants but government secured loans to sustain our businesses and provide for our employees and families. These loans would be at no cost to the taxpayers, as they would be repaid in a timely manner.

The Barkeepers and Operators Association is pleading with the Prime Minister to find it in his heart to allow for equal opportunity to bar owners and employees to earn a living and survive in the ‘New Normal’.