Patrons at a bar in La Horquetta on Thursday night.

Barkeepers’ and Owners’ Association (BOATT) president Satesh Moonasar says bars are being wrongfully accused of flaunting the public health regulations.

In a release yesterday, Moonasar acknowledged that some bar owners/operators were indeed flaunting the current COVID-19 protocols and that the association is working with the T&T Police Service to alleviate it. However, he said in most cases, bar owners/operators are being wrongfully accused by the general public “as these establishments are not classified as bars but are actually restaurants.”

“The general public and the media needs to understand that these establishments are classified based on the type of license they hold and the services they offer. Once you are a holder of a special restaurant license and serve food, you are not classified as a bar, you are classified as a restaurant and the current Health Ordinance allows restaurants to operate with in-house dining at 50% capacity with no consumption of alcohol,” Moonasar explained.

However, he also said that restaurants are using a loophole in the system and serving alcohol in disposable cups, glasses and teacups. “The general public and media are placing the blame solely on bars wrongfully,” Moonasar said.

He said because alcohol consumption is allowed everywhere else in public spaces, it leaves the TTPS with a difficult situation in terms of enforcement, as there is little to nothing that they can legally do to stop this practice.

“The Barkeepers’ and Operators’ Association of Trinidad and Tobago stands firm by its position that everyone should have equal opportunity and the current Health Ordinance and restrictions are creating a bigger problem than the one we are trying to solve. The association stands ready and willing to discuss this very important situation with all relevant stakeholders in an effort to ensure the health and safety of the public of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.