Eye on the Economy

IT WAS business as usual in downtown Chaguanas yesterday, the first day of the implementation of the Government’s TT Safe Zone initiative.

There were no safe zone signs in front of the malls but conspicuous signs stating that patrons must wear masks to enter were seen at the front of several business places.

Chaguanas seemed busier than usual and shoppers walked freely into malls and patronised food courts.

Upstairs Centre City Mall, workers at a restaurant did a brisk takeaway service.

Chairs in the dining area were placed, upturned, on tables and there was no one sitting and eating. Just as it was before.

“We are not clear about how food courts in malls are supposed to operate,” a worker at a food place said.

“Are we to serve only vaccinated people who would sit and dine? Or can we continue our takeaway service? Because the mall has not been declared a safe zone and anyone can walk in.”

Only a few of the places in the food court were opened. Many that were closed during the lockdown remained closed.

According to the safe zone initiative, restaurants, gyms, cinemas and water parks are included in the list of places that must have vaccinated staff serving only vaccinated customers.

There were no police officers in sight and several shoppers said they felt relieved that there was no segregation.

“I was a little tense about coming Chaguanas today,” a woman told the Express.

“I sometimes buy food in the food court in the mall to take home after shopping.

“I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I would see a sign in front the mall saying only the vaccinated can enter, or if the food court will not sell to the unvaccinated.

“I was bracing myself to go home and cook. But everything was normal. I’m grateful we are not as bad as in some countries.”

The announcement of the safe zone initiative sparked much public debate, with some people threatening to boycott businesses with safe zone signs.

The only thing different about Chaguanas yesterday was the closure of the market.

Chaguanas Borough Corporation workers were busily sanitising the market as part of regular Covid-19 protocols.

The corporation has stated that due to the extension of the state of emergency it has also extended the opening hours of the market.

Vendors can operate Monday to Saturday from 5.01 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sundays from 5.01 a.m. to midday.

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