DOMA President Gregory Aboud.

Storeowners in Port-of-Spain have lost revenue this week with the shutdown of non-essential businesses and for yet another year, they are feeling the pinch of the pandemic, unable to facilitate the Mother’s Day rush which is usually a time of heightened sales.

But as grim as this reality may be for business owners, the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) president, Gregory Aboud believes it was better that measures be taken to keep mothers alive so that there could be many more Mother’s Day celebrations ahead, and business for store owners.

“And may I also say with great respect that we think that mothers are precious and Mothers Day has been a big part of our business. But we also believe that having mom around after COVID is over, is of far greater importance than giving mom a gift or selling mom’s children a gift that they can give to their mothers,” said Aboud.

Though the industry is financially hurt, he agreed in light of the country’s current COVID numbers, the shutdown this time around is necessary and that businesses had no choice but to be guided by these facts.

“We recognise as everyone else does, the tremendous disruption that the new restrictions have caused, but we also recognise and have in our minds, this great situation of danger that has been created vis-à-vis, the number of infections and also the increasing number of daily deaths from COVID,” explained Aboud.

Admitting that the situation has left businesses in limbo for the last 12 to 14 months, Aboud said to mitigate the “stop and go” effect the pandemic has been having on businesses, it was the association’s belief that a special vaccination committee should be formed.

“The business community is of the view that the government should perhaps consider, forming a vaccination action committee, which would help to proliferate the inoculation of every man, woman, and child in this country. Because that to us is at this time the only known remedy for this disruptive and destructive COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the hotel and restaurant sector is also suffering a loss in revenue this Mother’s Day as they too cannot offer or facilitate the occasion.

President of the T&T Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association, Hassel Thom said the shutdown has been a massive blow.

“There is no opportunity at all to generate any revenue seeing that they’ve also stopped itinerants and curbside and deliveries. So there is no opportunity,” he reiterated.

But Thom also shared Aboud’s view that reducing the country’s current COVID numbers was more important.

“We must understand why we are doing it. The rapid rise in cases, I mean we are understanding, even though we know from an economic standpoint, you will still hope you would be given an opportunity. I think the Prime Minister was very very clear. I think the last press conference was one of his, in my opinion, better press conferences in sharing the information in actually speaking to the gravity of what’s happening.

He anticipates the lockdown could last well beyond the May 23 date.