Friday 4 December, 2020

Bar owners plead for 50% capacity: 'Buy and go' not profitable

The Barkeepers & Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) is pleading again with government to allow them to have 50 per cent capacity at their establishments, saying the current 'buy and go' arrangement is not profitable.

In a statement issued today, the group is urging Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to relax the current restriction on bars:

'The Barkeepers and Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago is pleading with the Prime Minister to relax the present restriction on bars as to allow our businesses to operate at 50% capacity together with the full implementation and adherence to the health guidelines at our establishments. Bar owners, employees and by extension our families have endured tremendous challenges and struggles over the past 8 months, both mentally and financially. Bar owners are struggling to make ends meet, as the current ‘buy and go’ system isn’t profitable. Rising debt has become part of the norm, while some have already witnessed their life savings, hard-work and investments vanish, and are now at the point of bankruptcy.'

The group said currently, gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed:

'Presently, persons are given the opportunity with an acceptable measure of risk, to congregate in groups of ten and can consume alcohol in all public spaces in Trinidad and Tobago except on the premises and precincts of bars which are licensed to do so. The Association is only asking for equal opportunity for bars, the risk factor will be minimum at bars due to their controlled environments.'

The group said they have undergone health and safety training to prevent any spread of COVID-19:

'We have all reinvented ourselves, did personal trainings and implemented all the proper health guidelines and protocols to create a safe and controlled environment for our patrons.'

'We urge the government through the TTPS and health inspectorate to hold all bar owners accountable for their individual establishments and welcome the necessary controls and fines associated with non-compliance.'

BOATT said if the current restrictions are to remain, they have asked for government secured loans to help them stay afloat:

'If the present restrictions are not relaxed, then government financial assistance will be needed, as well as new consultations with all stakeholders on a new way forward for our industry. We are not asking for any handouts or grants but government secured loans to sustain our businesses and provide for our employees and families. These loans would be at no cost to the taxpayers, as they would be repaid in a timely manner.'

'The Barkeepers and Operators Association is pleading with the Prime Minister to find it in his heart to allow for equal opportunity to bar owners and employees to earn a living and survive in the ‘New Normal.' 

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