Kiran Singh, president of the Greater San Fernando Area Chamber of Commerce, said he understands why the Prime Minister decided to revert to stricter restrictions.
But he said this country’s already suffering economy is going to “get even worse over the next three weeks.”
On Thursday afternoon, Dr Rowley announced the closure of all restaurants and bars, malls, places of worship, gyms and fitness centres, spas, salons and barbershops, casinos and betting houses, as well as cinemas, theatres and clubs.
These restrictions will remain in effect until May 23.
As of 4 pm on Thursday, there were 1,913 active cases of covid19 – 328 of which were recorded between Monday and Wednesday. To date 165 people have died from the virus.
Because of these startling numbers and the increasing number of people not strictly adhering to public health regulations since the vaccine rollout began, Rowley said the decisions were necessary.
Speaking with Newsday minutes after the announcement, Singh said he agreed that had stricter restrictions not been implemented, there was a high possibility of financial woes for the public healthcare system and its management.
“We understand why the PM has to do it,” he said. “But of course, it’s going to present an additional financial burden on the SME (small-to-medium enterprises) sector.”
He said he did not want TT to end up in a similar situation to India, where mortality from the virus is skyrocketing.
He said in 2020, he was not fearful of the situation getting out of control, but now, that opinion has changed.
“Because we have this Brazilian strain (P1), we have all these strains…Where is it coming from?
"To me, we were almost down to zero (cases per day). We need to do some more investigation and research into where these cases are coming from.
“Yes, vaccination will help the economy. But it was already suffering before and for the next three weeks, it will get worse. Workers will have to be further laid off and of course, the argument will be, ‘Better they get laid off than they dead or they sick and there’s no hospital space.’”
He said he was left wondering about the decision to close malls: “If restaurants and bars and casinos, cinemas, etc are closed, then there would be a decrease in foot traffic in the mall, so I would have thought that the malls would remain open.
“They must have done some due diligence and have expert medical opinions from local and international sources on how to go about increasing the restrictions in the country.”
He added, “Some businesses have been able to adapt to the changes and the economic climate we're facing, and it looks like we going to be facing it for a long time to come.”