If bar owners and patrons continue to ignore covid19 protocols, they will be shut down again, the Prime Minister warned on Saturday.
His stern caution came hours after the Health Minister raised an alarm about the behaviour of bar patrons.
However, the Prime Minister gave bar owners 48 hours to improve how they operate or they will be closed.
"I'm appealing to the bar owners to allow your businesses to remain open because if your enterprise is an area where people are behaving in such a way as to threaten the well-being and the livelihood of the rest of the country, the government will have no choice, the government will reluctantly have to go back," said Dr Rowley. He was speaking at the launch of the linear accelerator wing at the National Radiotherapy Centre at the St James Medical Complex, St James.
On Saturday morning, during the virtual press conference on covid19, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he saw and heard reports of people disobeying social distancing guidelines.
“There is a video circulating about a bar in Chaguanas, a bar in north Trinidad, where the bars are jam-packed, people are in each other’s faces partying, and it’s very disturbing.”
He said bar owners and their patrons have been advocating for their establishments to reopen but now that they have, people were acting irresponsibly. He asked bar owners and patrons to exercise discretion in operating and using bars and to control their behaviour.
He and the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) were looking into stricter measures to manage bar operations because they could not allow one sector of the business community to be a “flashpoint” for covid19 and send the country back into lockdown, make more people unemployed, and put more strain on the health care system.
In response, president of the Barkeepers and Operators Association of TT, Teron Mohan, said most bar owners exerted themselves physically, mentally, and financially to meet covid19 requirements and resume their livelihood.
He said officials could not hold all bars responsible for those who did not pay attention to or care about what was happening in their establishments.
"To reprimand the entire industry for the carelessness and recklessness of a select few, that is not fair. It is not a worthy reason to shut us down."
He added that police and health officials were supposed ensure people were complying with covid19 regulations but this was not happening in many areas and they could not be expected to do the work of the police.
Also at the briefing, Deyalsingh noted that two more people from the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship tested positive for covid19 on Saturday. This brings the number of cases to 126 and the number of people hospitalised at Caura to nine.
He said the CMO had to decide whether or not the others on the ship would have to restart the 14-day quarantine period.
However, he said it was possible that the 100 students from Jamaica being housed at UWI Canada Hall would leave quarantine on Saturday as their latest covid19 test results were all negative. Also on Saturday, the 46 students from Barbados who were housed at UWI’s Freedom Hall would have been swabbed and tested for covid16.
He added that the Ministry of National Security accepted 20 deportees from the US. The two women were quarantined at the UWI Debe campus while the 18 men were housed at a Vision on Mission facility in Claxton Bay.
Responding to a question about the ministry’s release on Friday warning about the health risk of some locally produced brands of alcohol-based handrubs/sanitisers, he said methanol was not supposed to be used in them.
The release said the World Health Organization’s guidelines recommend 60-80 per cent alcohol (either ethanol, isopropanol or a combination) for alcohol-based sanitisers, and advised local manufacturers, importers and distributors of sanitisers that they should seek prior approval from the Chemistry Food and Drugs Division.
“We discovered this issue where methanol was being incorrectly used and between the Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of Health’s Chemistry Food and Drugs, we will do the necessary corrective measures, which include pulling them off the shelves, to make sure the public’s interest is always served.”