The Barkeepers’ and Owners’ Association of T&T (BOATT) is calling for more businesses to be included as “Safe Zones”, which can only be accessed by fully vaccinated people. It asks that all nonessential retail businesses and the entertainment sector be brought under the initiative.

The move, the association’s executive team said in a press release, will not only address safety during this current wave of infections but also increase vaccination uptake.

The association echoed the sentiments shared by health experts globally, that “vaccination is the only way out of this doldrum that we are in presently”.

However, it noted while the government has done its part by providing the population with easy access to four different brands of World Health Organisation (WHO) approved vaccines, it “now needs to make the final tough decision that is inevitable”.

“While vaccination in Trinidad and Tobago remains voluntary, together with the government policy that links vaccination levels with the reopening of different business sectors and recreational activities, the individual choice of the unvaccinated are denying the entire population the right to earn an income and enjoy the wonders that Trinidad and Tobago has to offer,” BOATT said.

“This practice should not be condoned nor encouraged, the choice to be unvaccinated amongst the population is the only reason businesses and individuals are not allowed to function as they should and are hindered from continuing with their regular routines. This decision has allowed the choice of the unvaccinated to dictate and basically hold the country to ransom and citizens can and should not be denied the right to earn an income and enjoy the natural beauty of our twin-island republic based on such.”

The association said lockdowns and severe restrictions should be a thing of the past.

“The world is moving forward and adapting to living with COVID-19 whilst balancing lives and livelihoods and, as such, we see absolutely no reason why Trinidad and Tobago must be held back by the decisions of people who are hell-bent on causing disruption in our beloved country,” it said.

“The Barkeepers & Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) is willing to work with and support all stakeholders and business entities who share nation-building goals, ideas, and initiatives, we can only achieve this by teamwork, proper consultation, and an unbiased equitable decision-making process.”

Since the Safe Zone initiative was launched on October 11, the Ministry of Health has not tied any outbreaks or clusters of COVID-19 cases to these venues.