NO RULES, no alcohol!
This was the warning sent on Sunday by the TT Beverage Alcohol Alliance, the Trinidad Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Association and the Bar Owners/Operators Association of TT to errant bar owners who allow breaking of public covid19 regulations at their establishments.
Their warning came a day after the Prime Minister warned that bars which do not obey the public health regulations to prevent the spread of the virus, will be shut down on Monday.
Dr Rowley sounded his warning when he spoke at the launch of the linear accelerator wing at the National Radiotherapy Centre at the St James Medical Complex on Saturday. In addition to facing a cut off of their alcohol supplies, non-compliant bars owners will also be "named and shamed."
At a virtual news conference, TT Beverage Alcohol Alliance chairman Dr Patrick Antoine said the benefits derived from Government's decision to allow bars to be reopen, during the covid19 pandemic, "are being threatened by the behaviour of a few." Bars were allowed to reopen last week Monday.
Antoine declared, "This is not a position we can support or find tenable." He said all three groups are "extremely concerned about the practice of non-compliance." He said his association, Trinidad Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Association and the Bar Owners/Operators Association have been working diligently since Rowley issued the Government's ultimatum, to ensure full compliance of covid19 protocols by all bar owners.
Antoine announced, "The TTBAA, which comprises 90 per cent of the manufacturers, producers, distributors and marketers of alcohol in TT, have decided that for bars that are non-compliant, as of tomorrow (Monday), the bodies that constitute the TTBAA, will withhold delivery of any supply (of alcoholic goods) to these enterprises."
Antoine said the marketing and sales teams of all TTBAA members will be used to monitor the activities of all bars in the country. He said a 24/7 hotline will be established to relay information about non-compliance and if after three warning, there is still non-compliance, these establishments will be reported to the authorities.
Video images of dozens of people jammed inside bars, with many customers not even wearing face masks were uploaded to social media between Friday and Saturday, prompting the Prime Minister to publicly chastise these bars and warn that if within 48, there are further reports of similar overcrowding and non-compliance, then the bar industry could once again be shut down.
Antoine also said there are reports of some bars which pretend to be closed after the 10 pm closing time, but covertly remain open until midnight. Asked if the three associations feel satisfied their actions would convince Government not to act against the entire bar industry, Antoine said, "we believe Government has worked with us in good faith and we have been working with them in good faith. I think the Government knows that we have been working in good faith."
Antoine said a letter outlining their efforts to ensure covid19 compliance by bars will be sent to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram on Monday. He added the letter may also be copied to Rowley.
Trinidad Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Association CEO Brian Frontin said online training modules for bar operators and their employees will be held on Tuesday and Thursday. Frontin said it was instructive that bars in Texas and Florida were shut down again when those two US states recorded new spikes in covid19 cases.
Bar Owners/Operators Association interim president Teron Mohan agreed with measures to deal with errant bar owners and he also agreed with Antoine and Frontin that the gains made by the sector cannot be jeopardised by the actions of a delinquent few. Mohan said there are approximately 5,000 bars in the country with 300 being members in his association.
In its guidelines for the reopening of restaurants and bars, the Health Ministry identified sanitisation of facilities; wearing of masks when entering and leaving the establishment; masks being removed only for the consumption of food or beverages and denying entry to workers or patrons who are sick or exhibit covid19 symptoms.