Businessmen Ryan Chin, John Quan and Derek Chin say the restaurant and cinema industries are hoping they can soon start selling alcohol again. It has not been business as usual, they said.
After weeks of only allowing them to do curbside pick-up and take-out orders, on November 7 the Prime Minister announced in-house dining at restaurants could resume, but under two conditions: only at 50 per cent capacity and no alcohol was to be served.
Dr Rowley said, "Alcohol has shown and been shown to be one of the contributors to the results that we don't, want where people consume alcohol and it reduces their level of responsibility."
Restaurant owners had anticipated low numbers as a result.
And two months later, they told Newsday they are trying their best to make things work.
Quan is the owner of the Pub House, which has three branches at Ariapita Avenue in Port of Spain, Heartland Plaza in Chaguanas and in San Fernando.
In an interview on Wednesday, he told Newsday, “The industry isn’t going anywhere. Everyone has to focus on food now – everybody is going into (the) food (industry) because you can’t consume alcohol.
“When things are hard and people are stressed, they drink more.
"But they (the government) created more problems now that (customers) can’t sit in the environment. Instead, you are encouraging them to buy drinks and congregate all over the road. “
For the most part, he said, customers have been following the public health guidelines but he added that many are experiencing “covid fatigue.”
“We are seeing decreased spending. We know what we are seeing.
“Nobody even coming out to watch sports matches, because, again, you can’t consume alcohol on the premises.”
He said business has been “terrible,” and pointed out that the restaurant industry employs many people.
Derek Chin, founder of MovieTowne, said business has been expectedly slow, even more so now as “January, traditionally, is a tough month.
“But people are very comfortable, though. As you’ve seen, there have been no major outbreaks resulting from a cinema or a restaurant. People have been very co-operative.”
He too said he hopes the businesses can resume alcohol sales.
“That’s a big hit,” he said, “That’s about 40 per cent of our business. And you still have to keep moving whether you have it or you don’t have it.”
Ryan Chin is director at Dachin Group of Companies, which includes Texas de Brazil, Rizzoni's Ristorante Italiano, and Jaxx International Grill.
He told Newsday, “We’ve just been working based on the current regulations and trying to push our mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails), in the absence of alcohol, as best as we can.
“Numbers have been very limited and January is a tough time of year. So, in combination with everything that is already going on, we are greatly affected still.”
But he's relieved that restaurants are even allowed to have in-house dining.
“We are just trying to do our best. We’re just kind of riding it out still.”