Frankie’s security guard Austin Brewster uses the thermometer on two customers as they enter the bar on Ariapita Avenue, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

Three weeks after bars had their closing hours rolled back from 10 pm to 8 pm due to patrons failing to adhere to the Public Health Regulations, the Ministry of Health has agreed to relax its opening hours, taking it back to 10 pm. Bars will now be open from 8 am to 10 pm.

The announcement was made by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on Saturday.

Speaking during the Ministry of Health’s national briefing, Deyalsingh said the current regulations would expire on Sunday.

He said following continuous monitoring over the last few weeks, the authorities were satisfied that bar owners and operators had successfully adjusted their internal operating policies and as such, the amendments that were being drafted by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi would reflect the new changes that would go into effect from Monday.

Deyalsingh appealed to both owners and patrons to play their part and act responsibly.

The decision to roll back the closing hours initially came after numerous reports of large groups of people congregating at various bars and outside establishments across the country.

Deyalsingh said while it was difficult to keep on a mask in a bar, it was incumbent that people social distance in that setting. Barring this, he said it was up to the TTPS to enforce regulations where it was not being adhered to.

President of the Bar Owners Association of T&T Teron Mohan said while he was pleased to an extent with the news that they could revert to the 10 pm closing time, “There was much more work to be done.”

He said the two-hour extension was a big thing economically in some parts of the country.

Scheduled to return to court on Monday, Mohan agreed that disc jockeys and party promoters continued to be among the hardest hit as he pointed out that election campaigning was being allowed to take place with music trucks and large gatherings occurring.

Mohan said while they were not yet ready to return to what was normal before, bar owners could not afford to become complacent as the threat was still very real.

He urged all bar owners/operators to adhere to the guidelines and secure themselves and their patrons by enforcing public health regulations.

Mohan said with the upcoming CPL events scheduled to take place in T&T, bars are now going to be sought after to cater for patrons wanting to view the games and as such, he hoped they would be allowed some leeway by the authorities for those spectators.

He said, “That will definitely assist us in recouping some of our losses.”

Ramsingh Lalla, the owner/operator of Nari’s On D Avenue welcomed the announcement as he expressed hope that the closing hour would be extended from 10 pm in order to facilitate the later times of the CPL games.

He said all the protocols, signage and sanitising requirements had been introduced.