THE PRIME Minister said bar patrons who are not complying with covid19 restrictions are putting the entire country at risk.
He was answering a question on Monday at a media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's.
He said the required response is a personal response and he understood the argument by bar spokesmen that when people congregate on the street it was not their responsibility.
"But they have to understand that the business that they are engaged is a business that is calling people to violate the protocols.
"There's no other business doing that. The cake shop is not doing that. When people come out to bars, the very reason they come out there is to hobnob with their friend."
He said when people drink alcohol they are less responsible and everyone forgets to wear a mask. He recalled that a public-spirited person called him and told him there was a bar open an hour after the 8 pm mandatory closure which was "ram cram jam" and the outside was "full of people."
"Considering what we have been doing over the last three months, this group is putting all of us at risk."
Earlier this month, members of the Barkeepers and Operators Association called on Dr Rowley to give them back the two hours between 8 pm and 10 pm which had been taken away because of errant customers and owners at some bars.
Rowley said when the police can redouble their efforts and ensure bars are closed when they breach the restrictions, an adjustment can be made to the restrictions, though he did not elaborate what it might be.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he had had discussions with Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and National Security Minister Stuart Young on the issue of bars and compliance.
He recalled that he was driving in Woodbrook recently at about 3 pm and saw a bar at the western end of Ariapita Avenue.
"I was appalled to see the throngs of young people in such close quarters. It was scary."
Deyalsingh said he did not only hold the bar owners accountable, as he had made a plea to both bar owners and patrons to exercise caution and to be responsible.
"This tells me some people are not getting the message."
He said in contrast to that behaviour, he saw gyro vendors and other food outlets adhering to the rules.
Deyalsingh said there is a particular problem when there is alcohol in a social setting, as it causes reasoning to "go out the window". He pointed out that in many countries it was places where there was this "social lubricant" that became epicentres for new spreads of covid19.
"It is not about punishing bars. We ask both owners and patrons to consume responsibly."
He stressed that society is an ecosystem and one of the people who frequent bars, from their 20s to their 40s, could contract the virus, take it home and infect their school-age children, which would then jeopardise the opening of school on September 1.
"We are in this together. The activities cannot be isolated and say, 'Okay bars, you do what you want, it doesn't affect the rest of the society.' "And that's why I point out food establishments are doing well, construction doing well, manufacturers doing well, The only part of society that doesn't want to accept their share of responsibility are the bar owners and their patrons."