What happens if COVID-19 cases continue to spike well after the 28-day timeline for the current restrictions?
That’s the question MovieTowne chairman Derek Chin is asking in light of Government’s second round of public health measures which forced businesses like his to close their doors from yesterday to prevent spread of the virus.
In a telephone interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Chin said while he understands the gravity of the pandemic, he firmly believes other options could have been explored to prevent further infection of the economy.
He noted frequent intermissions in their operations could possibly cause the company to pull their curtains down permanently.
“We are looking at our viability; can we stick around? You might hear we are out of business because we will have to shut down and try something out again or go somewhere else,” Chin lamented.
Since being allowed to reopen in June, Chin said MovieTowne had a 90 per cent reduction in patrons because no new movies were released. However, with Hollywood set to debut new movies by the end of this month, the company was anticipating business would have returned to some level of normalcy.
However, he confirmed that he met with his attorneys yesterday and is drafting a letter with some alternative ideas to put forward to the Ministry of Health.
“People will say is only about money and so on but we have responsibilities, we have loans, employees and their families,” Chin said.
He added, “We have had no reports, nothing about cinemas causing cases because we followed the rules and yet you’re going to close us down. So if we follow the rules and you still close us down then you might as well say forget putting protocols in place.”
MovieTowne currently employs more than 2,000 people, Chin pointed out. He noting he is meeting with his Human Resource Department to draft a plan on the way forward, as he admitted sustaining the current staff level will be difficult.
Prestige Holdings Ltd Chief Executive Officer Simon Hardy meanwhile said it is too early to tell the extent of the impact for the company.
“The brand that is likely to be impacted is TGI Fridays, which is more of a dine-in concept but we think that we had already taken measures before to pivot alternatives or convenient-driven channels,” Hardy said.
But Hardy said the company’s main focus is to preserve jobs.
While he could not say whether staff at any of their five restaurants will be sent home, Hardy noted staff may be placed in other areas where possible.
Meanwhile, Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association president Hassel Thoms said restaurants have been recording lower sales since the start of the second wave. He said the THRTA membership will have to meet soon to discuss a survival plan.