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Struggling in Pandemic

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On a busy sports day Hutt Shutts in Tacarigua is usually a full house.

However, this has been far from a usual year and the popular bar remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, with its workers facing uncertainty.

“We’re losing out tremendously. We’re losing about, let’s say maybe more than 95 per cent,” said Donald Sookdeo, a bartender at the establishment.

Sookdeo lives with his mother and sister and with no money coming in, expenses are rising.

“Every month you have bills to pay and it’s accumulating right now and money not coming in but you have to keep putting out money all the time from your banking accounts so it keeps going down and down and down all the time,” said Sookdeo.

However, he said his troubles were much less in comparison to some of his colleagues, two of which gave birth to children, unsure of when they would see a steady stream of income.

“It’s a shame they have to close it down like this and we have no income, for guys who was working and girls who was working too. Look we girls, they are married, they have kids to support, they need financial backing to support. And we’ll I don’t know, I don’t think they get any grants or anything like that,” he said.

Hanna Bibby only became a mother two months ago, around the same time the Hutt Shutts had to close its doors due to renewed restrictions on bars and restaurants due to the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

“Being out of work has been very difficult because this is where I make my money, this is where I depending on, I have a child to see about now and nobody not gonna give me anything free so you have to work to put food on the table and stuff like that,” she said.

Marcy Ledel, a Venezuelan who is married to a Trinidadian, has worked at Hutt Shutts for three years. She welcomed a baby four months ago. However, with almost seven months without steady employment, she is uneasy.

“It is quite a hard situation to bear,” she said.

“It has been really hard. I have been able to go thanks to the grace of God. I’m doing pretty much anything to overcome the difficulty because I have a little one. Thanks to God, I have my health for now. The biggest difficulty at the moment is the question of the job. No persons can come. I have no salary and I have difficulty to pay my rent.”

Bibby, a supervisor at the Tacarigua Sports Bar, questioned the decision to allow casinos to open, but not bars, as she believed similar risks were involved.

“I don’t think it is fair for bars to be closed and for casinos and stuff to be open.”

They are all hoping that Saturday brings an announcement that is favourable for them.