ALLAN Campbell, owner of Carrat Shed Bar in Marabella, is taking issue with the Prime Minister saying the entertainment and recreation industries had to be “given up” after prioritising which services needed to resume.
At a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Dr Rowley announced that the current restrictions in place for bars – no gathering or consumption on the premises – will be continued.
Rowley said, "I know that the people that operate bars are anxious...
"When we are called upon to restrict the acts we engage in, we just had to prioritise and entertainment and recreation were areas that we had to give up."
He asked bar owners to "hold on for a while longer."
"The reason for that is not that we are against beers and rum it is because beers and rum are available outside of bars. But when you go to the bars, there's that social congregation that happens there."
Campbell told Newsday the decision did not surprise him, adding that he believes Rowley “keeps changing his mind.
“If you listen to his address two weeks ago, he gave bars and restaurants - everybody's hope that if there’s no big spike, he was going to relax the measures and he did the opposite. You cannot be treating business people like that.”
He added, “Yes, alcohol is accessible in other places but are 60,000 jobs available in different places right now? What about the employees? What about the livelihood of these people? The direct employment of thousands of people is not a priority?”
He said every two weeks, Rowley has been telling bar owners to “hold on for another two weeks.
“My point has been that you have to learn to live with this thing, and that doesn’t mean you have to close down certain sectors.
“He telling you now you can have in-house dining but no alcohol. A lot of rests depend on alcohol sales. It seems he has something against bars.”
One of the directors at Pro Sports Bar in Malabar, Courtenay Legendre, said, “What has been done has been done.
“If the powers that be see it that way, I guess we have to find a way for it to work. If that’s how they see it we will have to try our best to cope until such time,” he said.
He said while sales have been “a bit flat,” it has not reached the point where they are struggling to operate.
“If that’s the Prime Minister’s view then that’s his view and he’s entitled to it, but we run a business. And if a business is not allowed to operate then I don’t see how they can still be a business.”
John Quan – owner of the Pub House – said the announcement was "quite disappointing," adding that the government needs to strike a balance.
Asked about Rowley's point of alcohol being otherwise accessible, he said, "If that was the trend then you'd never have bars and restaurants. You could also eat and drink in your house, you have alcohol in groceries but do you go in groceries to take a little lime and a little drink? Is that the atmosphere you want to be in? No, you want to get out. A bar has a role to play."
He said several business places – not just bars – are closing down by the week and the government needs to address this.
Newsday contacted Barkeepers and Operators Association president Teron Mohan for a comment but all calls and messages went unanswered.