The government must encourage participation, conversation and engagement with the population especially in times of need, grief and hardship.
This is the call put forward by the Barkeepers and Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) following announcements by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley on Saturday that their sector will remain closed for two more weeks.
President of BOATT Teron Mohan said that to deny this fundamental opportunity to open dialogue has left over 25 000 bar owners and employees with the feeling of being cast aside with no concern of how they are to survive and provide for their loved ones.
He said, “The Barkeepers and Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago is concerned that the further extension of measures will further exacerbate our financial strain.”
“As a result, the industry will not be able to sustain operations. The day-to-day lives of our employees are adversely affected more so now than ever as more businesses will shut their doors. We anticipate further job loss, citizens won’t be able to pay for basic amenities or put food on the table. The mental state of our employees has been demoralized and diminished as a sense of doom and gloom now prevail over their heads.”
He said all this while the Health Minister keeps saying, “We are in a good place.”
He asked, “How can this be a good place when thousands of citizens are left on the bread line through no fault of their own with absolutely no care and assistance from the relevant authorities, and not even the common courtesy of being granted a conversation with the government on a way forward?”
Mohan said that the business sector continues to be decimated while citizens are allowed to have private parties and congregate at beaches, whilst consuming food and beverages, in an uncontrolled environment with the only guidelines being don’t go to the same beach at the same time.
He asked, “Can people congregate on beaches and consume food and beverages without removing their mask?”
This, he said, is deemed acceptable by the government while the business sector, which has created a controlled environment by the implementation of all safety guidelines and protocols, is being denied the opportunity of providing in-house dining services.
“The damage being done to the local economy during the partial lockdown of the business sector will have long-lasting effects and will affect businesses for years to come,” Mohan said.
The BOATT is therefore pleading with the government to have an open dialogue with members and all stakeholders involved.
Mohan said this is desperately needed for the survival of the food and beverage sectors in Trinidad and Tobago as they are at the point of no return.