Hassel Thom

PECULIAR SITUATION’: Hassel Thom

Hotel operators have found themselves in a tricky spot with the safe zone initiative.

Hotels are currently not operating in a safe zone as several logistics have to be ironed out and operators are seeking clarification from the Ministry of Health so their businesses can be added to the initiative.

Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association (THRTA) president Hassel Thom said yesterday that one of the biggest issues is that children under 12 are not allowed to dine in at hotel restaurants.

“Another peculiarity that occurs as well is that the hotels operate under one licence and not separately like the restaurants and bars. While that is so, it does not prevent hotels from enacting their own policies of accepting only vaccinated persons and ensuring the entire staff is fully vaccinated to operate in the safe zone policy,” he told the Express in a phone interview.

He explained that the aim is to get more of the population vaccinated, so it is harder to contract Covid-19.

“Now I’m not saying to force workers but I’m saying that the public sector should lead by example by educating and ensuring that their employees are vaccinated and I believe that we might start seeing an uptick in the numbers,” Thom said.

The association has reached out to Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh and Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram on how to proceed.

“There is no restriction on taking anyone under the age of 12 into a hotel. That’s where it becomes tricky—which is why we’re awaiting feedback. A hotel that wants to offer in-house dining to its guests would find itself in a peculiar position,” he said.

But he maintained that it was workable once the legalities were ironed out.

“Right now hotels are accommodating various energy companies who quarantine their staff before they head offshore and that is how we have been surviving during the pandemic. We would love to have guests dine and stay at our hotels once again,” Thom said.

The safe zone initiative, which was rolled out on Monday, accommodates fully vaccinated people to dine at restaurants and bars, watch a movie at a cinema and gamble in casinos.

Alcohol cannot be consumed while dining in and establishments can only operate at 50 per cent capacity.

Bars still closed in Tobago

Bar operators in Tobago are also complaining.

Kate Davis-Choon said the majority of her bars in the sister island are closed as she and her workers are not vaccinated.

“Well not being vaccinated works out very perfect for me because my health is my wealth and I was told in a dream not to be vaccinated,” she said.

But she is not generating any income as her bars remain closed and she is worried following the implementation of the safe zones.

“I am very worried because my workers are not being vaccinated either and they are stressed out, they have no food and shelter, they might get evicted from their homes,” Davis-Choon said.

General manager of Jade Monkey bar Seon Anthony told the Express his bar will remain closed until month’s end, as renovations are ongoing so the necessary public health protocols can be implemented.

At Fairways Restaurant and Lounge, owner and operator Stacia Lindsay said she was operating as a safe zone and is only allowing fully vaccinated customers inside the restaurant for in-house dining.

“All unvaccinated customers who wish to patronise would still be able to purchase for curbside pick-up or delivery. We look forward to serving all vaccinated customers in-house,” Lindsay said.

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