Cross Crossing vendors anticipate another 'last lap' rush

Customers and cars line up near food vendors at Cross Crossing, San Fernando on Monday evening. - Marvin Hamilton
Customers and cars line up near food vendors at Cross Crossing, San Fernando on Monday evening. - Marvin Hamilton

STREET food vendors at Cross Crossing, San Fernando are once again anticipating a large turnout of customers on Monday night as the Prime Minister announced the closure of all food services until May 23.

Last week, Dr Rowley had only closed restaurants and bars and allowed street food vending to continue.

This led to many businesses that had never used a food truck before using them as loopholes to continue sales. And in addition to this, vendors who always sold this way experienced some of their longest lines in months, especially at Cross Crossing and at Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain.

Newsday visited the San Fernando food strip around 4.30 pm on Monday and people were already gathering to purchase food.

One gyro vendor said the crowd on Sunday night was not as bad as on Friday and Saturday. But he ensured people were practising physical distancing and even added markers on the ground to show people where they should stand.

"The first night (of restaurants' closure) was really busy. Police had to come and block off the road another night so that people could not park here," he said.

Another vendor who sells empanadas and sandwiches, Anthony Sebastien, said too many people in the country were not following the basic public health regulations, which is what led to this decision.

The food truck is his sole source of income but he understands the decision would have been made eventually.

Nicholas Tambie operates the stall for Tambie's Doubles on the food strip. He said it is a family business run by him and his father.

He said business has generally been slow and he believes it is the actions and behaviour of citizens that have led to the return of these stricter restrictions.

He and his co-worker Brent Ramtahalsingh said they expect the strip to be "a mess" from around 7 pm. He said people have been behaving "like it's the end of the world."

He said he has been very strict with customers when it comes to following public health regulations.

He recalled telling a woman she could not eat the doubles at the stand, to which she replied, "Once I buy my doubles, you cannot tell me what to do with it."

He refused to sell her any because of this.

"They could say what they want but is me who getting charged.

"People have to make sure they sanitise and socially distance if they are coming to buy here," he said. "These lockdowns taking a toll on the business and it's just me and my father. And I writing exams in May/June so I trying to keep up with online classes, too."

One final vendor who sells sandwiches said he was surprised at the announcement. He said he was expecting restricted times but not the complete stopping of food sales.

He said he has to figure out what the arrangement will be for his workers and that the next three weeks are going to be very tough.

He said frontline medical workers who worked late hours would visit the food strip often. But now, because of "irresponsible behaviour," these people will be denied a quick meal.

"They might end up having to eat hospital food," he said.


"Cross Crossing vendors anticipate another ‘last lap’ rush"

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