Barkeepers & Operators Association president Teron Mohan (centre), with vice-president Satesh Moonasar (left), and PRO Anil Maraj Powell.

The Bar Keepers and Operators Association (BOATT) wants Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards—Principal Medical Officer / Institutions at the Ministry of Health—to provide scientific data which shows that the consumption of alcohol would lead persons to reduce their anti-COVID measures, namely face-mask wearing and social distancing.

In an official statement on the matter, BOATT expresses concern over recent statements made by Dr Abdool-Richards in that regard.

“At the virtual media conference on Monday 9th November 2020, Dr Abdool-Richards stated: ‘As regards, the decision for restricting alcohol at restaurants and the closure of bars, this is a policy decision that was taken by a group of persons based on the science and evidence on the impact of alcohol. In summary, we believe that alcohol, from a behavioural pattern, causes a disinhibition of behaviour and thus results in persons reducing their anti-COVID measures, in terms of face mask wearing and proximity, thus increasing their risk of COVID-19 transmission’, the BOATT statement quotes Dr Abdool-Richards.

In response, BOATT argues:

“Based on this statement, one can congregate any and everywhere in Trinidad and Tobago, including streets and sidewalks, consume alcohol, but only when you enter a Restaurant or Bar, alcohol causes a disinhibition of behaviour and that there is scientific data and evidence to support this.”

The Association maintains such a position is counter to what is happening in other jurisdictions, where studies show no such correlation.

“Data coming out of the United Kingdom, which has one of the highest COVID-19 caseloads in the world, shows that restaurants and bars only account for 4% of COVID-19 related cases, with the majority of cases coming from workplace and educational settings,” BOATT says.

It adds: “In countries all over the world—including our CARICOM neighbour Barbados—both bars and restaurants are open and operating under COVID guidelines and protocols with little to no COVID cases.”

BOATT says it is concerned since the Prime Minister’s decisions on relaxing restrictions are being influenced by inputs from senior health officials, like Dr Abdool-Richards.

“The Barkeepers and Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago is calling on Dr. Abdool-Richards to kindly provide the general public with the details of this scientific data and evidence, as such information has influenced the Prime Minister’s decision that affects the livelihood of over 100,000 employees that are employed in food and beverage sector, all of whom have suffered tremendously over the past 8 months,” the Association states.