Members of the Crown Point Community Partnership Association (CCPA) say the Government’s directive to close bars until April 30 to prevent the spread of COVID- 19, has forced them to retrench workers.
The Crown Point stretch, the hub of entertainment in Tobago, remained quiet since the Government introduced the measure.
Over the weekend, many remained closed, take-out service for patrons was fully rolled out, but few persons visited the businesses.
In a release, members of the association said they are in “full support of the government’s measures.”
However, they noted: “To comply with the government directives, we have, unfortunately, had to let staff go.”
They said they are providing emotional support for employees.
They said many “businesses are worried about their capacity to remain viable” and are now appealing to the government for financial support in the form of “emergency funding and/or special grants” to help them weather the impact of the directive.
The statement added that they are struggling financially and have met as a business community to come up with a survival plan which will inform the government of the extent of their financial burden.
“We are once again, appealing to them (Government) to put a support and stimulus package in place to assist us. We have also asked for a meeting with the Chief Secretary to discuss this way forward.”
The release added: “…If each of us does the right thing to keep our families, friends, and neighbours safe, we will be able to find our way to the other side of this crisis.”
Not all members of the association have retrenched staff.
Rene Seepersadsingh, director of the group of companies that manages businesses such as Jade Monkey Casino Bar and Grill, told Guardian Media, over 50 staff members remain on the payroll.
“We understand the situation in the country, so we are playing our part. We will follow the rules governing industrial relations,” he said.
He said Tobago’s businesses have faced several beatings, from the slowdown in the tourism sector, over the years.
“Finally, this year we saw a turnaround, and now this happens.”
On March 20, Tobago House of Assembly and Central Government officials met with business owners in Tobago.
Officials noted that in addition to the financial measures already in place to assist businesses in the country, Tobago’s tourism sector will be given additional financial support. One measure includes a grant to refurbish properties.