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Businessman Peter George

Businesses across the country are supporting the State of Emergency, which came into effect at midnight Saturday night.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley declared a State of Emergency and said the curfew period will run from 9 pm to 5 am. He said this measure was put in place to ensure people have fewer opportunities to congregate and spread COVID-19.

T&T Chamber: We will continue to act in the best interest of the country

The T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce said as the representative of the business community, it will continue to act in the best interest of its members and so it supports the Government’s decision to implement the State of Emergency.

“Due to the number of infections and the strain on the healthcare system, we recognise we had to escalate the actions to halt, curb, and reverse the spread; therefore we support the implementation of the curfew. The sobering reality of our current situation is in part, due to weak enforcement of the restrictions, porous borders, and irresponsible behaviour of the non-compliant.”

Given the current restrictions, the Chamber said the business community must leverage the digital infrastructure many businesses have put in place to allow them to operate.

“Curbside pickup and delivery provide excellent opportunities for businesses to operate while reducing the movement and physical points of contact among citizens.”

The Chamber also looks forward to reviewing the regulations under the State of Emergency, recognising that citizens’ rights must be protected and approved businesses should be allowed to operate under the terms of the State of Emergency.

“We implore everyone to be diligent in taking all necessary steps to save lives. It is time for us all to do our part–No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

On Friday, the Chamber had called for further restrictions including a curfew and justified it by saying that they had gotten calls from concerned members and they also did a survey which showed that members wanted stronger measures to be taken to stem the growing COVID-19 cases.

SATT: The health of the nation in jeopardy

President of the Supermarket Association of T&T (SATT) Rajiv Diptee said that he understands why the Government took the action as the health of the nation is in jeopardy.

He does not believe that the State of Emergency will impact how supermarkets will carry out their business.

“This does not radically affect us in any way. There are already the requirements to be off the street by 9 pm. What this means for us is that we will have to look at addressing the opening hours for the supermarkets.”

Peter George: I’m not happy we’re in this position, but I support the measures

CEO of the Trent Group Peter George Jr understands why the Government has implemented a State of Emergency and he is confident that the country will get through this difficult situation.

“I have said that I support stronger measures. I understand that the Government cannot call a curfew under the Public Health Ordinance so they need emergency powers, so I hope that the emergency powers are used for the right reasons to curtail the movement of people. I am not happy that we are in this position, but I support the measures taken.”

DOMA: Tough decisions have to be made

President of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) Gregory Aboud fully supports the Government’s decision to declare a State of Emergency.

“We find that our country is facing a perilous situation and we understand that there comes a time when tough choices have to be made and we believe that this is the moment. We recognise the difficult position that the position is in. He has been trying to arbitrate between strict measures and the welfare of the people in terms of their ability to move on,” he told the Sunday Guardian by phone on Saturday.

He also called on those that have been criticising the management of the COVID-19 pandemic to take a “constructive line.”

“We would like to echo the view of the Prime Minister when he referred to the remarks made by Senior Counsel (Anthony) Astaphan in Dominica which was that those who have the interest of the country at heart will be easily identified in a time of crisis like this. This is a very serious time in the history of this country.”