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FLASHBACK Friends lime at the The Avenue Pub House Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, back in June.

Chairman of the The Trinidad and Tobago Beverage Alcohol Alliance (TTBAA) Dr Patrick Antoine has called for the re-opening of food and beverage entities in T&T.

In a webinar hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce titled “T&T Chamber and Business Sectors Virtual Media Conference”, Antoine said: “We’re proposing the space of licensed venues, entities with bars, restaurants with bars and that we essentially go 30-50 per cent capacity.”

He added: ‘What is different today is that our industry is under tremendous economic siege.” Antoine added that the industry also accounts for over 126,000 persons, noting that nearly 300 of the 5,700 bars are closed.

According to Antoine, the economic impact of this reality is that close to 100,000 people in the country are now without sustenance or are on partial sustenance compared to before COVID.

Antoine noted that a relaxing of the restrictions would take the sectors linked to the food and beverage industry out of partial non-productivity and lockdown.

The TTBBA Chairman acknowledged the support of the Ministries of Health and Trade and Industry, the T&T Hotel and Tourism Institute and the Trinidad Hotel Restaurants and Tourism Association in building a partnership to confront the current crisis.

He argued: “As we engage this second wave of COVID globally, we have to be realistic about the impending threats and we have to decide that what is required is nothing less than the whole of society approaching and confronting this pandemic.”

Whether it is consumed in bars or restaurants, Antoine admitted the TTBAA’s acknowledgement that the consumption of alcoholic beverages can be a potentially high risk activity that contributes to the COVID-19 spread.

Antoine said: “Having regard to that recognition, there is a commitment now and a commitment that I believe has been cemented by the evidence and the experience of having to live with this pandemic that tells us in no uncertain terms that we are up to the task of managing this risk.”

He admitted since bars are currently in the crucible of the current fight for their own economic survival, the Bar Association of T&T has joined the TTBAA in trying to find solutions to address the socio-economic challenges posed by COVID-19 and its impact.

According to Antoine, the TTBAA recognizes the importance of forming alliances in response to the threat of the pandemic, that is posed to the economic viability and employment of those in the sector.

In a recent release, owner of Trent Restaurants, Peter George Jr indicated that in light of the COVID-19 restrictions, the restaurant brands (Blue Star Diner, Amara, Tommys, Buzo and Trotters) have continued to experience “catastrophic losses which are no longer sustainable.”

George noted that the last 8 months, his businesses have seen a devastating and prolonged 70 per cent contraction in business. However, he noted that like other businesses, if the measures and restrictions are not relaxed his business no longer has the resources available to keep all of its restaurants open and keep all of its 300 staff employed.