Passage to Asia chef Naresh Kumar prepares food for take away lunches earlier this week. The food sector is hoping Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announces some ease of COVID-19 restrictions today so that they can reopen for in-house dining.

After two months of only being allowed to offer take-out services due to COVID-19 restrictions, several restaurants across the country say they are ready to dust off the chairs and put them back on the ground.

Prestige Holdings Limited CEO Simon Hardy told Guardian Media yesterday the company is eagerly awaiting Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s media briefing from Tobago at 2.30 pm today. In the event Rowley lifts restrictions, allowing the resumption of in-house dining, Hardy said all of their five outlets are ready to serve customers safely.

“We were ready to have our in-house dining services back in July/August when we were able to, taking the usual safety precautions such as wearing masks, taking temperatures of customers and staff, frequent hand washing and sanitising of contact surfaces,” he said during a brief telephone interview.

“We have even installed hand sanitiser units for customers and installed additional partitions prior to the second phase of restrictions.”

In-house dining at restaurants and bars was debared among other measures announced by Rowley on August 15, 2020 as the country battled to prevent community spread of the virus.

Nalini Galbaransingh, director of Singh’s Group of Companies, meanwhile it’s time T&T learn to live with the virus. She said while she understands the Government’s concerns, businesses are suffering. She noted that operations at their hotels, Grafton Beach Resort and Le Grand Courlan Spa Resort and their Waves Restaurant and Bar have been severely impacted.

“I had 170 staff at the middle of March and laid off everybody for how many months and with the little bit of business we have had, we were able to keep our door ajar, not even open,” she lamented.

In his last address on the COVID protocols, Rowley said bars, restaurants and religious organisations could be given some leniency once there was no spike in cases. Earlier this week, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said the total average daily cases had been on the decline, bringing hope to many businesses and citizens that there would be some ease to restrictions today.

Global Brands Limited director Anthony Sabga-Aboud said their teams are prepared for any eventuality today.

“We have our teams on standby in case we need to reopen our dining rooms to ensure we have a smooth transition for whenever the Prime Minister may reopen the economy, whether that may be this weekend or whenever,” Sabga-Aboud said.

Royal Castle CEO Sandy Roopchand also said they have a safety plan in place to protect both customers and staff in the event the Prime Minister gives the green light today.