[UPDATED] Bars beg to reopen: We’ve reinvented ourselves


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News

Melissa Doughty

8 Hrs Ago

FILE PHOTO: An employee at Texas de Brazil restaurant in MovieTowne, Port of Spain, cleans while director Ryan Chin checks stocks at the bar in anticipation of reopening last month. – SUREASH CHOLAI

MELISSA DOUGHTY AND RYAN HAMILTON-DAVIS

The Barkeepers and Operators Association of TT (BOATT) is pleading with the Prime Minister to relax the present restriction on bars and allow them to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

In a media release on Thursday, BOATT said the bars have reinvented themselves, did personal training and implemented all the health guidelines and protocols to create a safe and controlled environment for their patrons.

“We urge the government through the TTPS and health inspectorate to hold all bar owners accountable for their individual establishments and welcome the necessary controls and fines associated with non-compliance,” it said.

Bar owners, employees and their families, it said, “have endured tremendous challenges and struggles over the past eight months, both mentally and financially.”

It added that some owners were struggling to make ends meet, as the current “buy and go” system isn’t profitable.

BOATT said some of its members were now facing bankruptcy as their life savings, hard work and investments have vanished.

At present, it said, “People are given the opportunity with an acceptable measure of risk, to congregate in groups of ten and can consume alcohol in all public spaces in TT except on the premises and precincts of bars which are licensed to do so.

“The association is only asking for equal opportunity for bars, the risk factor will be minimum at bars due to their controlled environments.”

It said if the current restrictions are not relaxed then Government’s financial assistance and new consultations with stakeholders would be needed for a new way forward for the industry.

BOATT said it was not asking for handouts or grants but secured government loans to sustain businesses and provide for employees and families.

Carib Brewery which has been supporting bars by providing takeaway offers and even materials, such as physical distancing stickers, for them to meet public health protocols is also hopeful in-house drinking will resume.

External affairs head Carla Furlonge-Walker on Thursday said current sales from bars could not compare to the sales when people were allowed to have a beer at their favourite watering hole.

“When you buy at a supermarket or take away from a bar, it is a different pattern of consumption than consuming beer at the bar.

“Bars are all about hospitality, socialising, rest and recovery. Bars mean so much to Trinis.

“But what takeaway service has done was turn bars into supermarkets. It is not a lime any more, you have to pick up and go.”

Wholesalers, who also supply bars, were affected as well, as bars bought less from them.

“It is sort of like a circle,” Furlonge-Walker said. “In March we were completely closed, so takeaway is better than that, but it is not generating the (usual) kind of sales for bars and for us. Some bars are not even breaking even. Most of the bars have already gone down from a staff of eight or ten people and are now operating with two workers.

“If bars aren’t operating properly, wholesalers will also be affected.”

Since government allowed restaurants to open for in-house dining at 50 per cent capacity, Carib is hoping bars may get a similar deal.

But it may be difficult because of their main product – alcohol – which according to medical professionals, may impair judgement and stop people from identifying the social cues which will remind them to maintain covid19 restrictions, like physical distancing and wearing masks.

In the meantime, the brewery maintains its service to bars and remains loyal to its staff. Furlonge-Walker said the company has made it a point to ensure staff are protected from the economic fallout from covid19.

“We made a conscious effort not to furlough staff. Our staff are loyal to us, so we have to be loyal to them.”

Even when the threat of the virus recedes, Furlonge-Walker said Carib has recognised that consumers have changed because of covid19. She said innovation will be very important as the company seeks to recover in 2021.

“We are going to change how we do business and engage with the customer now. We want to meet the needs of a changing consumer.”

This story was originally published with the title “Bars beg to reopen” and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

The Barkeepers and Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) is pleading with the Prime Minister to relax the present restriction on bars and allow them to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

In a media release on Thursday, BOATT said the bars have reinvented themselves, did personal training and implemented all the health guidelines and protocols to create a safe and controlled environment for their patrons.

“We urge the government through the TTPS and health inspectorate to hold all bar owners accountable for their individual establishments and welcome the necessary controls and fines associated with non-compliance,” it said.

Bar owners, employees and their families, it said, “have endured tremendous challenges and struggles over the past eight months, both mentally and financially.”

It added that some owners were struggling to make ends meet, as the current “buy and go” system isn’t profitable.

BOATT said some of its members were now facing bankruptcy as their life savings, hard work and investments have vanished.

At present, it said, “People are given the opportunity with an acceptable measure of risk, to congregate in groups of ten and can consume alcohol in all public spaces in TT except on the premises and precincts of bars which are licensed to do so.

“The association is only asking for equal opportunity for bars, the risk factor will be minimum at bars due to their controlled environments.”

It said if the current restrictions are not relaxed then Government’s financial assistance and new consultations with stakeholders would be needed for a new way forward for the industry.

BOATT said it was not asking for handouts or grants but secured government loans to sustain businesses and provide for employees and families.

Story appeared first at newsday.co.tt

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