A number of businesses in the Crown Point community have been shut.
This follows the order by the government for all bars to be closed and for restaurants to restrict dine-in service for 14 days with effect from March 16.
The Crown Point stretch, which spans from the ANR Robinson international airport to the Pigeon Point junction, is usually the hub of entertainment. However, it has been quiet since the government introduced the measure.
Speaking with Newsday on Wednesday,vice president of the Crown Point Partnership Association, Shirley Cooke, noted that the Crown Point community has been an up-and-thriving community over the years, as the private sector has taken the opportunity to make Tobago vibrant and to try and create wealth.
Responding to the measures announced by the Prime Minister as part of efforts to curb the spread of the covid19 virus, Cooke said it has been challenging.
“It’s been very difficult as restaurants and bars have been the first for the government to declare that they would be closed. We have been hit immediately and it was just a sudden impact, so there is really no inflow of cash coming in. The situation is pretty dire,” she said.
While she is in full support of the measure, she said: “What we find is that landlords do not seem to be as flexible at this time.” She, like Dr Rowley, is asking landlords to be compassionate.
“We’re asking landlords to be lenient, at least this is the time that they need to adjust the rent.
“Tenants also have a responsibility to reach out to landlords. You cannot just expect that the landlords will understand the situation. So I am also urging tenants to realise that you’re the ones who have to reach out to your landlords for steps to be taken.”
Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) Restaurant Sector director, Kirton Sorias agrees that the restaurants and bars have been hard hit.
“A lot of restaurants in Tobago, mainly the dining-type restaurants, are affected a lot.
“When the government decided to shut down the bars and do curbside pickup, what happened is that you had a lot of spoilage in the restaurants. You had to throw all the food out, so that caused a lot of loss for restaurants and bars. For a lot of bar owners, that’s their only income and they have families. It’s very difficult.”
Sorias said he has received numerous calls from business owners.
“It’s very, very difficult and then you have the landlords telling them that they need their money. The decision has really put bar and restaurant owners in a very difficult position.”
On March 20, the Tobago House of Assembly and the Central Government met with members of the Tobago Division of the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce along with a number of business owners on the decision.