As discussions continue on closing bars, and their owners' responsibility to stop people from congregating outside, Allan Campbell, owner of the Carat Shed bar in Marabella, is urging government to rethink its policy.
Campbell said with covid19 cases rising daily and the lack of enough vaccines to attain herd immunity anytime soon, bars cannot remain open with no customers indefinitely.
“We cannot afford an indefinite covid19 lockdown,” he said in an interview with Newsday.
Campbell said he sympathised with the call of Satesh Moonasar, president of the Barkeepers and Owners Association (BOATT), for a ban on alcohol consumption in public and an open-container policy to prevent congregating outside bars – but he totally disagrees.
“If you ban alcohol consumption in public, it means that people can only consume alcohol in private spaces, like a residence. What sense would it make for a customer to come to a bar to buy a drink if he or she cannot consume it on the premises or outside, but has to go home to do so?
“Let’s be practical. Supermarkets sell the same products cheaper than the bars. So you want to tell me our customers are so loyal they would come to the bar, pay a higher price and take it home?”
Campbell said there are approximately 6,000 bars which employ at least 21,000 people, some of whom have been out of work for the past year, and that must be taken into consideration.
He said before restrictions are applied, consideration must also be given to the fact that Trinidadians are not a disciplined people.
“Tobagonians may be a little more disciplined, but we are a happy-go-lucky people. We like to fete. We fete at birth, we fete at funerals and we fete in between. So don’t try to change our culture.
“You give a Trini an inch and they would take a yard. Bar owners have no power to control customers within the parameters of the bar, and I don’t expect we should put that additional workload on the police.
“Covid19 is not going to leave us anytime soon. We have to learn to live with the covid. The narrative has to change, we have to discuss and find ways to live with it.
"Trying to change the culture of citizens overnight is not the answer," Campbell insisted.