After being in lock down for a third time and closed for several months bars, in-house dining, cinemas, theatres, casinos and gyms finally get the green light but only some can proceed with extreme caution.
At a press conference held on Thursday 23rd September, 2021 PM Dr Keith Rowley addressed the nation of Trinidad and Tobago announcing that several sectors within the food and beverage and entertainment industry have been given the nod to open back for business at a limited capacity and, this time with new conditions. In order to operate, the owners of these establishments and all of their employees must be fully inoculated with a WHO approved Covid-19 vaccine. Additionally it has been mandated that these same establishments allow only vaccinated customers into their businesses to be deemed as a Safe Zone.
Whilst cinemas, casinos and some restaurants may somewhat survive without relying completely on the sale of alcohol, the bars that do not operate as a restaurant are clearly in a conundrum as Trinidad and Tobago is still in a SOE and during a State Of Emergency alcohol consumption in public is banned. From the dangling of a carrot and the shifting of the goal post most stakeholders have patiently and diplomatically held strain however it has become clear that brick and mortar bars must shape up or ship out. Bars that don’t diversify and adjust to the old and new protocols will inevitably become dead in the water.
Speaking of water it’s been approximately six months since Tribagonians have been allowed to set foot on a beach or in a river and many citizens are questioning the logic behind the reopening of indoor dining and entertainment while the beaches and rivers remain closed. Perhaps it simply would become a logistical nightmare for authorities to control and manage the reopening of beaches for the vaccinated only as a Safe Zone, opposed to the establishments, with the onus being on the owners to enforce on to its workers and patrons, or risk being charged and more than likely shut down for good. Already these businesses have had to truly bear the brunt of loss of business and employment being categorised as non-essential since the advent of this economical devastating pandemic.
No one should be forced or coerced into getting vaccinated and we hope that the Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in T&T quickly diminishes. Of the entire vaccinated population having reached just below half of the 70% herd immunity mark (approximately 34% as of today, 25.09.21), are there enough employed and with disposable income available to support these establishments?
The vaccination rate will miraculously have to double or it will result in the permanent closure of more businesses within the food and beverage sector in Trinidad and Tobago before the end of this year.