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Tuesday 4 August, 2020

Bar owners take legal action to remove restrictions on operating hours

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iStock image

The Bar Owners and Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) says it will be issuing a pre-action protocol letter to Attorney General Faris Al Rawi seeking a return to regular operating hours for all bars.

In a statement on Saturday, the Association said after seeking a legal opinion from Anand Ramlogan, SC it is believed that a successful constitutional challenge to the COVID-19 regulation restriction on the operating hours can be made.

On June 29, National Security Minister Stuart Young announced that bars will be required to open at 8 am and close at 8 pm.

He said patrons found outside of these establishments after 8 pm, will be charged.

However, the Association claimed that proper procedure was not followed because the regulations were neither approved by nor passed by Parliament and "they have eroded the sacred fundamental rights of citizens in a disproportionate manner will be stronger and more acceptable."

It added that the bar industry employs over 20,000 persons and the reality of limiting the operating hours has tremendous implications for persons employed in the industry.

It said the change in operating hours will also result in more unemployment.

The Association said it has therefore been left with no option other than legal action because "attempts to engage the government in consultation have been met with no response."

Meanwhile, 61 bar patrons, including three gang leaders, were arrested by officers of the Inter-Agency Task Force during an anti-crime exercise conducted in Belmont.

Officers conducted the exercise between 5 pm and 8 pm on Friday after receiving a report from the Command Centre that in excess of 25 persons were seen congregating at a bar at the corner of Belle Eau Road and Regent Street, Belmont.

Upon arrival, the officers observed 61 persons at the establishment and arrested them for Breach of the Public Health Ordinance Regulations. 

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