Tobago bar owner slams PM’s 'harsh decision'

Businessman Tele Cruz is unhappy with closure of bars throughout the country.  -
Businessman Tele Cruz is unhappy with closure of bars throughout the country. -

Tobago businessman Tele Cruz has called the decision of the Prime Minister to close all bars for the next 14 days as a "harsh decision."

Dr Rowley also advised against all gatherings beyond 25 people as the Government seeks to encourage social distancing throughout as a means of curbing the spread of covid19.

Speaking with Newsday on Monday, Cruz, who owns two bars on the western end of the island, said, “Even though I know that the coronavirus is something that is very deadly and it is very important that we take all precautions in making sure that it does not spread and get out of hand, I believe that the way that we do things in Trinidad and Tobago sometimes trigger things more than we actually put remedy to."

Cruz, who also runs Fog Angels J'Ouvert band, said the announcement to close bars was illegal.

“I’m not against the politicians in whatever they do… I believe in doing things in a certain order. Going live and say that this comes into effect now and you’re telling bars and restaurants to close, I believe that is just wrong. It’s illegal in the law of TT. It's not a state of emergency, so it's not like you can demand restaurants and bars to close, you can ask them nicely.”

He believes customers should be allowed to buy their alcoholic beverages at bars and then leave.

“I see it as something that should have had a little more planning in it. The same (way) that persons can go to a restaurant and not congregate, buy your food and go home, the bars can do the same thing. Go by the bar, buy your drinks, jump in your car and go home. Why shut down the bars?”

Cruz said while he would be affected, his staff are the ones who stand to lose more.

“They would not be paid because they’re not making me no money. If they’re not making me no money, I can’t pay no money. Where am I getting money from to pay them?

“These buildings are also not mine, is my landlord going to say don’t pay any rent? At the end of the day, my landlord, as he said to me rightfully, he has a loan to pay for the building that I am in."

Marketing manager at Jade Monkey, Nickesha Nottingham, said her establishment is “trying to work with the government to keep the country as safe as possible.”

Asked if she supported the decision she said, “I do, but we have to take into consideration, there are staff that would be need to be paid. I don't know if the Government is considering helping people that would need (assistance).

She said despite the threat of the coronavirus, the turnout of customers prior to Monday's announcement was "as normal."

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