The Arima Business Association (ABA) is advising Government to apply a three-week lockdown of the country, with only essential services and businesses operating, in a bid to bring down the number of COVID-19 infections.

The business lobby issued a release today in which it stated that it would support Government if it decided to impose further COVID-19 restrictions, given recent high infection rates.

According to the ABA statement, “We can no longer afford to prolong the inevitable if human behaviour remains unchanged…” even though such a move would worsen the hardship which many corporate and individual citizens have been experiencing under the pandemic.

The following is the full text of the statement issued by the ABA:

Increase restrictions to combat further spread of COVID-19

The Arima Business Association (ABA) will support the Government should they decide to impose further COVID-19 restrictions.

With approximately 3% of the population receiving their first dose of the vaccine and a halt to vaccination drives until another shipment of vaccines arrive sometime in May 2021, it is critical that the spread of COVID-19 be contained to protect the unvaccinated population. We may run the risk of overwhelming the healthcare system if Wednesday’s record high of 223 is perpetuated in the coming days; there were 2,144 new positive COVID-19 cases for April thus far.

It is with this in mind that ABA suggests a three-week lockdown of the entire country and movement limited only to conduct essential business; suffering for three weeks would be easier than operating handicap on low sales and reduced income for the next six months while active positive cases continue to rise.

The ABA is cognizant that many businesses have closed within the last year due to COVID-19 and those lucky to survive the first wave are now on the brink of a very slow and painful demise due to the consistent decline in consumer confidence and spending. Lowered incomes have forced consumers spend only on essential items while they themselves are afraid of being exposed to the virus if they leave their home to conduct business. We are also aware that moratorium options made available to our members were expensive but necessary to survive while many were unable to secure the Government’s SME Stimulus Loan.

Businesses continue to enforce “No Mask No Service” policies and incur costs to safeguard employees and customers. However, pandemic fatigue and irresponsible behaviour among members of the population have resulted in the high numbers of COVID positive cases within the last few weeks. We see businesses and Government offices closing almost daily for sanitisation and productivity reduced or, in some instances, halted as employees and or departments are quarantined for two weeks.

We can no longer afford to prolong the inevitable if human behaviour remains unchanged.

While we await the next batch of vaccines, the ABA believes that now is the opportune time for the Government to partner with the private sector to source additional vaccines once the Ministry of Health’s requirements are met. There is an urgent demand to quickly vaccinate members of the population since the arrival of the P1 COVID-19 variant in Trinidad.

We understand that these are challenging times for all businesses and citizens, but it is important that we do our best to combat the spread of this virus in Trinidad and Tobago.

Let us all act responsibly to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the most vulnerable in society from contracting COVID-19.