Ministry of Health Epidemiology Technical Director Dr Avery Hinds.

The Ministry of Health has made public the scientific evidence it gave to the Prime Minister which helped influence his decision to limit the sale of alcohol in restaurants as they reopened and to continue the ban on in-house service for bars.

The Barkeepers and Owners’ Association of T&T (BOATT) called on health officials to provide the scientific evidence used as referenced by principal medical officer institutions, Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards during a press conference on Monday.

Speaking during yesterday’s virtual press conference Dr Avery Hinds once again defended the policy decision saying: “This is supported by journal evidence by external experts. Not stuff that we’re making up. It’s not stuff we’re making up off the top of our heads. This information would actually be hosted with appropriate links on the ministry of health’s website for those actually interested in reading further.”

Up to press time, the pieces of literature were not posted to the website.

The two pieces of literature Dr Hinds referenced were The Journal of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Volume 32, Number 27 published on July 13, 2020, and the other was from a Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Ohio.

The journal article titled ‘Bar settings offer dangerous mix during height of COVID-19 crisis’ came to the conclusion that “The link between alcohol use and disinhibition lends support to policies restricting operations in bars during the pandemic.”

On Monday, Dr Abdool-Richards defended the Prime Minister’s decision saying: “As regards, the decision for restricting alcohol at restaurants and the closure of bars, this is a policy decision that was taken by a group of persons based on the science and evidence on the impact of alcohol. In summary, we believe that alcohol, from a behavioural pattern, causes a disinhibition of behaviour and thus results in persons reducing their anti-covid measures, in terms of face mask-wearing and proximity, thus increasing their risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

BOATT however, called on her to “kindly provide the general public with the details of this scientific data and evidence as such information has influenced the Prime Minister’s decision that affects the livelihood of over 100,000 employees that are employed in food and beverage sector of whom have suffered tremendously over the past 8 months.”

Based on Dr Abdool-Richards’ statement the association argued that someone “can congregate any and everywhere in Trinidad and Tobago, including streets and sidewalk, consume alcohol, but only when you enter a restaurant or bar, alcohol causes a disinhibition of behaviour and that there is scientific data and evidence to support this.”

It cited data coming out of the United Kingdom, which it said, has one of the highest COVID-19 caseloads in the world and shows that restaurants and bars only account for four per cent of COVID-19 related cases with the majority coming from the workplace and educational settings.