Restaurants, bars and cinemas operators are ready to operate with Monday’s removal of covid19 restrictions which previously debarred unvaccinated patrons and limited the number of customers.
On March 26, the Prime Minister announced the removal of all restrictions except the wearing of masks in public spaces. Safe zones will be done away with, all restrictions on rivers and beaches will be removed, and there will be no capacity limit to public gatherings.
Prestige Holdings CEO Simon Hardy noted there was already in-house dining in TGIFridays and Pizza Hut as they were safe zones, but KFC, Starbucks and Subway had their dining areas closed.
“The teams have been going through to make sure all of the dines are being prepared in readiness. The teams are getting ready to welcome back each and every customer, with no differentiation on Monday.”
He said the restaurants were maintaining some safety protocols such as hand sanitisation and mask-wearing on entry, the plexiglass barriers by the cashiers, and frequent sanitisation of high-contact areas.
“Covid hasn’t gone away so whilst we really welcome the reopening of business the government has decided to do, we still need to be aware and observe the protocols that have kept us safe all this time.”
Sateesh Moonasar, the president of the Bar Keepers and Operators Association of TT, said its members were happy to be able to serve the entire population once again as they have not been able to do since August 2020.
“It’s been a long wait for the bar owners and we are happy we are at this position.”
He said that since certain things such as temperature checks, hand sanitisation stations, and sanitisation routines were already in place, members agreed to continue.
“The Prime Minister said it best. It’s all about personal responsibility now. We as the bar owners will do our part because we do not want the return of the restrictions or lockdowns. But we will need the co-operation of everyone to accept their individual responsibility. They know enough about covid19 by now, they know what is required to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, so everyone needs to use their discretion.”
However, he believes some people would be timid to lime in a crowd by a bar and it would take a while to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Derek Chin, owner of MovieTowne, told Sunday Newsday some business owners had been asking for the removal of safe zones for a while so it was good to see the country returning to some semblance of normality.
He said the walk-through misting sanitising station would be removed, there would be no more checking of vaccination cards, enforced social distancing or hand sanitization.
Masks would continue to be required, and it would keep operating at 75 per cent capacity. There would also be social distancing in the concession lines and the sanitisation of high-touch areas would continue. Otherwise hand sanitising and social distancing would be left up to the individual.
“Hopefully, in the not too distant future, there will be further step down (of restrictions). However, we all support that vaccinations do work, they minimise the illness, so we encourage people to continue.”