SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

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Although there have been multiple warnings against Old Year’s night parties, one popular Port-of-Spain hotel advertised a ‘midnight fare and buffet’ for last night, prompting condemnation from the Police Commissioner.

Screenshots of the post advertising the event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, listed the details as “Celebrate the New Year on our Waterfront Terrace and enjoy our tantalizing dishes with family and friends.”

The advertisement listed the food available, including a ‘midnight fare buffet’ of corn soup and doubles. A live countdown to the New Year was also included. The listed price was TT$495.

But yesterday morning, the T&T Police Service (TTPS) issued a statement quoting Police Commissioner Gary Griffith as warning against midnight countdowns at hotels, bars and other establishments.

“The CoP is reminding the owners and operators of these establishments that the Public Health Ordinance Regulations state very clearly that these places must close at 10 pm,” the release stated.

Griffith was quoted as saying, “Those places which are openly advertising their events for tonight, please be advised that the TTPS will be visiting you. I have noticed that in one case, a hotel has advertised to the public that persons can ring in the new year at the waterfront. There is another case where a restaurant has advertised that patrons can have a quiet dinner before the countdown begins.”

Griffith said his officers would have been out in full force, ensuring the public did not flaunt the Public Health Guidelines and cause an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Guardian Media contacted the hotel using the number listed in the advertisement yesterday and enquired about the event.

A staff member who answered the phone said the event was ‘sold out.’

Attempts to speak to the hotel’s Public Relations Officer were unsuccessful because when the call was transferred to the officer’s office, it was not answered.

During a visit to the hotel, there seemed to be little activity taking place in the outside seating area of the restaurant.

One man approached our news team outside the hotel grounds, asking that they refrain from taking footage of any guests or staff. The man, who said he worked with the hotel’s security, denied there was any event carded for last night.

When he was shown a screenshot of the advertisement, the man said he did not know where it came from. He declined to say anything else.