Plans by Government to not have a second extension to the current State of Emergency (SoE) has brought a sigh of relief to business chambers across the country.
The chambers see the move as a lifeline to thousands of businesses that have been struggling to keep afloat since the SoE was implemented in May to tighten restrictions and curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The first SoE was extended in August.
At a press conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley made the announcement that he had no intention of asking Parliament to extend the SoE which comes to an end this month.
President of the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers Vivek Charran told Guardian Media that the SoE has lived its time.
“The end of the SoE means that restaurants and bar owners that have been suffering…. they now have another lease on life….they are now allowed to open up longer hours. This will be a lifeline.”
Charran said they can only hope by the end of November, a new Police Commissioner is appointed.
While the curfew and SoE have reduced burglaries, Charran said “it is important that we have a Police Commissioner in charge for confidence within the business sector and during that busy Christmas period. What a lot of people are thinking is that at the end of the SoE and curfew will we see a return of crime that we had previously seen before. That is worrying for some people.”
The confederation represents 13 chambers.
CEO of the T&T Chamber Gabriel Faria who had previously called on Government to relax the restrictions yesterday welcomed the announcement.
“As the Prime Minister noted based on his learnings from the script the world is learning to live with an endemic COVID-19. It is time to get people’s lives and businesses back to some sort of normal while we follow the required health protocols.”
Faria pleaded with citizens to get vaccinated, stating that COVID would be around for a while.
As businesses gear up for sales this Christmas, Faria said he was hopeful that the T&T Police Service would operate under new leadership and management in the coming weeks.
“We hope that this matter will be put to rest shortly,” he said, referring to the appointment of the new CoP.
President of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) Gregory Aboud told Guardian Media the association was grateful that the SOE and curfew will be discontinued.
He said the PM’s decision was a positive step for the hospitality industry, restaurants, nightclubs, bars and food establishments.
“But while we keep a positive outlet because of that news we also keep an apprehensive eye on the very high number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths reported on a daily basis.”
“We hope and pray that the Government has both scenarios in mind…one being the reemergence of the T&T economy from this terrible episode and the other being the need to control the infection rate in T&T.”
Aboud said DOMA was extremely concerned about the vaccine hesitancy that continues to exist in the country.
He said getting the jab was the only pathway to freedom from this oppressive virus.