Staring at the deserted Boardwalk in Chaguaramas yesterday as he stood in front of his snow-cone cart ready to serve anyone stopping for the ice treat, 64-year-old Gaston said, “Before it was really bad, but now it get more bad.” Gaston did not want to reveal his surname.
Pointing to the absence of visitors at the popular bathing spot as the directive to close the nation’s beaches took effect at midnight on April 15, he was unable to say what would be his economic position following the three-week closure.
Set up outside Pier One along the Western Main Road, Chaguaramas, Gaston said he has been selling the sweet confection for the past 28 years.
Unable to rule out a permanent closure after this period, he shook his head sadly as he admitted, “It hard…it really hard. They didn’t have to close the beach again. At the end of the day, they coulda monitor it more but closing down here, it don’t make sense.”
Officials at the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) said members of the public adhered to the new regulations yesterday.
Woodbrook businesses angry, disappointed
Business owners/operators in Woodbrook expressed disappointment, anger and frustration over the reimplementation of restrictions which has seen a ban on internal dining at restaurants, bars and casinos; and a reduction in groups from 10 to five being imposed.
The manager of Wing It, located at the corner of Petra Street and Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, said they may not be able to recover this time around.
Sharlene Seebaran said their dine-in operation will be severely affected as Fridays and Saturdays are usually their busiest times.
Revealing sales had increased following the opening of this branch last December, she said with customers now having to either buy and go/or pick-up orders, many customers would no longer be inclined to come to this location.
Seebaran believes the authorities could have held discussions with them before again imposing such restrictions.
“It could have been worked out. We could have come to some agreement because we now really started back to pick up in the business again, and now we have to close up shop again,” she lamented.
Admitting they had recently increased their staff, Seebaran asked, “Now we will have to probably send them home again to their families and what will become of them and after? Who is to say if this lock down will be prolonged?”
With a potential staff reduction of almost 50 per cent looming, Seebaran said it was, “because of this turn of events, we had no idea this abrupt announcement was going to come along.”
Further spikes in the COVID-19 numbers resulting in longer bans could result in either one of Wing It’s branches in Maraval or Woodbrook having to close.
Echoing Seebaran’s comments was the owner of Stages On The Avenue, Jean-Marc Aimey predicted, “Sales are going to be drastically reduced.”
Currently operating with one member of staff per shift, he said their prices are competitively designed to allow customers to maximize their dollars.
However, this latest lock down would adversely impact their clientele.
He too said, “As entrepreneurs and business people, we look forward to coming up with solutions to problems and we could have been approached. We could have put measures in place in order to protect the livelihood of our businesses, as well as see about our staff and still service our customer base.”
Aimey said they had been carefully adhering to the regulations to sanitise and ensure customers were socially distanced.
“The customers themselves dine and use the establishment in a manner that is socially responsible, so I definitely do not see there being a correlation at especially our establishment, and similar restaurant-type establishments with the spike in the COVID-19 virus,” he claimed.
One official from another popular fine-dining restaurant along Ariapita Avenue declined to provide her name but said, “People are disenfranchised and are angry. It could have been worked out.”
Chin: Movie Towne remains open for now
Cinema-goers were heartened to learn that Movie Towne, Invaders Bay, Mucurapo will not be closing as initially indicated by owner Derek Chin yesterday.
During a telephone interview on CNC3’s The Morning Brew yesterday, Chin referred to the latest restrictions as a disappointment.
Claiming business had been “trending pretty well” since reopening last November, Chin said this move was frustrating.
He said, “everybody had been trying to get their business back on track and to reemploy some of the many staff who had been laid off for some time and had been feeling the hardship.”
Chin said during the period November 2020 to March 2021, there had been no significant increases in the number of cases recorded hence, “It proves that having these particular businesses open have no direct effect on causing this Covid spread.”
He questioned what empirical evidence had been collected that could lead officials to impose such a “carte blanche” directive which would lead everything again being shut down.
And he added, “I don’t expect that by us closing, it is going to have an effect on the spike. I expect it is going to continue because we have not contributed to the spike in the past and the data is there for everyone to see.”
Following a meeting yesterday with stakeholders, Chin confirmed in a What’s App message that, “Movie Towne will remain open from tomorrow (today) and will show movies only.” He said concession stands will be closed as per the latest restrictions.