Rishard Khan

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The Barkeepers and Owners Association of T&T believe their establishments are being targeted and vindicated by Government, especially the Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh.

This, president Teron Mohan said, is hypocritical behaviour considering what was seen over the past two weeks.

Responding in an interview with Guardian Media to comments by the Minister of Health and other officials during a press conference on Wednesday with the Prime Minister, Mohan said that he understood that bars provide a setting that could lead to the potential spread of COVID-19. However, he contends that so too do many other places such as “a restaurant, a school, any recreational facility that is encouraging a large concentration of crowds or congregation of persons.”

“We understand the risks these places- or the part they would play- in this whole thing. But to go out wildly now and say that bars this and bars that…when the numbers are showing otherwise. That is outright unfair…it’s very vindicating,” he said.

He said that since the start of this new phase of the virus’ epidemic in T&T, there have been several government offices, schools and other businesses were closed due to possible contact with positive cases- more than the “two or three” bars which epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said were linked to transmitting the virus at Wednesday’s press conference.

“They (the Ministry) needs to be clearer in what they’re saying…it’s either you’re saying bars are the cause or the bar is an environment similar to the others you need to be cautious about,” Mohan said.

Throughout the country’s pandemic period, bars have been the subject of heavy scrutiny by Government and health officials. They were also among the first businesses to be ordered closed as the country entered its four-month lockdown period earlier this year. They were also the first establishments to experience a roll-back after they were allowed to reopen during the phased reopening of the economy after some bars disregarded the public health regulations and guidelines and encouraged large gatherings. Their opening hours were reduced and they were required to close at 8 pm instead of the initial 10 pm. Their opening hours were only recently reinstated following the threat of legal action by the association.