Tobago Chamber of Industry & Commerce president Diane Hadad says the Government should have allowed bars and restaurants to reopen fully so as to mitigate the deepening economic challenges confronting these sectors and their employees.
During a news conference on Saturday at the Scarborough Library, the Prime Minister gave the green light for beaches to reopen.
But he said bars and food establishments will continue to be restricted to take-out services, at least for another two weeks. He said the current arrangements for these businesses will be reviewed during that time.
The Barkeepers & Operators Association of TT complained in a statement on Sunday that the damage being done to the country’s economy during the partial lockdown of the business sector will have long-lasting effects and affect businesses for years to come.
The association pleaded with the Government to have open dialogue with stakeholders on the way forward.
Hadad said on Tuesday, the bar owners’ concerns are legitimate, given the impact of the covid19 regulations on the sector.
“We cannot simply turn a blind eye to bar owners and restaurateurs and the likes of that in terms of the multiplication process for staff and unemployment,” she told Newsday.
“We cannot leave it unaccounted for in terms of the ripple effect to the suppliers and providers of services to these people, all of it is in a mess.
“We cannot ignore that this has had a devastating effect on the economy in terms of people making commitments to their bankers. There is no way we can sit and turn blind eyes to all of that.”
Hadad also said the country’s borders should be reopened at least to people from within the region.
Citing World Health Organisation (WHO) adviser Dr David Nabarro who predicted “a doubling of world poverty by next year” because of the lockdowns, Hadad believes opening the economy is necessary.
She added, “I don’t know that we should not be opening. The WHO declares that the lockdowns need to be released and that they have not proven to do anything other than economic disaster.
“We have our neighbours close by that are dealing with it. Our neighbours have tourists coming in and they are making sure they value their economics. But why is TT taking this approach?”
Hadad noted there are even limited flights between Trinidad and Tobago on the airbridge. Caribbean Airlines operates six flights a day between the two islands.
“We need to open up flights and if it is the THA (Tobago House of Assembly) that is on their mission, because there is an election to win, they need to stop playing games and they need to get real.”
Hadad also pointed to what she considered to be the potential social impact of the Government’s handling of aspects of the pandemic.
“The approach seems to be not just cautious but uncertain, and whilst the virus itself carries a measure of uncertainty, it has come to a stage where what has become uncertain is the livelihoods of the people of the country.”For example, Hadad referred to the decision to send public servants back out to work.
“But the school and daycare system is closed. And therefore we have a lot of minors that are going to be unaccounted for and not taken care of in the manner that they should be. So there is a serious issue with the social repercussions or danger that can take place in doing that. That is one point I think needs to be looked at seriously.”She also claimed the new online curriculum is placing a strain on the resources of service providers.
“In the school system, everybody is on Zoom and other platforms. (But) it seems the country’s providers cannot even stand up to the needs of what is going on for the internet system, because you keep having a number of fallouts from internet.”
Hadad said as a result, the school system is becoming very frustrating for the children at home. She said some are even experiencing depression.
“These are children, who, in many instances, come from broken homes and school is an outlet for them to connect with friends.”
Hadad said she visited a few depressed children last week.
Credit: Source link