TWO businessmen gave mixed views on government’s announcement on Thursday, that from October 11, vaccinated patrons and employees will be able to operate in bars, casinos, restaurants, gyms and cinemas, but unvaccinated people will be barred.
MovieTowne franchise owner Derek Chin congratulated government on this move saying covid19 is something the entire country must learn to live with. He said this segment of the economy could not be allowed to remain shuttered.
“I think it is a positive step. Government is taking a chance but I think it realises that it has to start opening the economy. So I congratulate it on taking that bold step,” Chin said.
However, Peter George, owner of the Trent Restaurant Group had a more lukewarm response. He said there are mixed signals being sent by government on the issue of mandatory vaccination. He pointed out that the industrial court made it clear vaccinations cannot be mandated
“It is some kind of cat-and-mouse game,” George said. “Government is saying we are not telling you what to do, but if you don’t get it (vaccinated) you can’t work or you can't access certain good and services.”
“I don’t care what New York or anywhere else is doing. We have to develop policies that would suit our country. In supermarkets, public transportation and all of these other places you don’t have to be vaccinated. I don’t understand how you could go to a supermarket unvaccinated but you can’t go to a restaurant for in-house dining,” George said.
“Government should come out, go into parliament, debate and legislate mandatory vaccinations for the entire country and put an end to it.”
George said that come October 11, he would have no choice but to follow the policy of safe zones.
“Clearly the answer now is we will not let them (unvaccinated staff) come out to work, because there will be fines levied against the owners,” George said. “The PM also made it clear that is it is our responsibility. So the short answer is no.”
“We have a situation where we will have to protect our employees and patrons,” Chin added.
“We don’t have a choice. The government said to us if you want to open and you want to have guests you have to ensure that your staff and your patrons are protected.
"The alternative to that is we stay closed and you are out of a job anyway, whether you are vaccinated or not. So why must the ones who made the sacrifices and followed the rules pay for the ones who didn’t want to listen?”
George who has about 35 per cent of his staff vaccinated and Chin, who boasts of almost a 95 per cent vaccinated staff, both questioned the decision to maintain the policy that no alcoholic drinks would be served.
“If you are creating government-enforced safe zones with only vaccinated employees and customers, then what is the problem with serving alcohol,” George asked. “The logic is missing me.” For his part, Chin is suggesting a two-drink minimum in the first instance.
Attempts to reach the franchise owners of Prestige Holdings and Global Brands for their views were unsuccessful.