President of the Bar Owners and Operators Association (BOATT) Teron Mohan has described as “a slap in the face” Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement on Saturday that $10 million will be allocated to assist bar and restaurant employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to Guardian Media via telephone, Mohan said “Among 5,000 bars, that figure is working out to $2,000 per bar.
“How is that supposed to make any sort of dent, or relief with that allocation? It’s not adequate to pay rent, lights, utilities, it cannot offset our expenses and operating costs.
“It occurred to me that this Government has no consideration to the hospitality sector; they’re very content to see bars go belly up.”
He said so far just under 400 bars have gone under and it was projected that the figure will climb to 450 by the end of the week.
The association is scheduled to release a statement by Monday.
Meanwhile, Curtis Ramlakhan, manager of Frankie’s Restaurant & Bar in Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain, said the Government’s policy to keep bars closed in an attempt to stave off the COVID-19 pandemic was “mashing up” business.
He said the establishment was one of the most popular bars on the Avenue and it was struggling with the restrictions of no in-house alcoholic consumption.
the business had a full complement of 30 staff members, now they were operating with a bare-bones four employees, including himself.
He said he had no barman, the cleaner doubled as security, the chef was cooking BBQ for takeout and one waitress was helping him.
Ramlakhan said there were other bars in the area with crowds gathered outside which was in contravention of COVID-19 health and safety protocols however, the police were only concentrating on Frankie’s and chasing customers.
He described the $10 million bailout to assist bar and restaurant employees as too little, too late and would have no significant impact.
Ramlakhan said they did not even know how or where to access the relief fund.