An employee of Royal Princess Members Club

CLEAN-UP TIME: An employee of Royal Princess Members Club sanitises machines at their MovieTowne branch yesterday.

LIMERS and bar patrons appear to have heeded Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s call to limit public gathering due the COVID-19 pandemic as the usually bustling Ariapita Avenue, St James and MovieTowne areas have turned into virtual ghost towns.

Since the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday urging the closure of bars to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, most bars heeded the call.

The Express visited several bars and lounges on Ariapita Avenue, yesterday afternoon and 13 of them were closed. Frankie’s Restaurant and Bar was the only one open along the stretch, as they sell breakfast and lunch.

Manager Glen Diaz, 54, said business is slow, because the night life aspect is virtually no more at this time. He said the practice of curbside pick-ups and takeaway of food has been introduced.

“Twenty employees are currently out of jobs, as the bar is closed at nights, so there are only seven workers for the day, at this time. We are hopeful that things normalise soon, because the employees have families to take care of and everyone has responsibilities. We are going to try all that we can to ride through the situation as the measures put in place by the Government are necessary at this time,” said Diaz.

One of Frankie’s employees in the food section, Angela Miguel-Berment of St James, said the situation is very stressful and scary as her future income is at stake.

In St James, which is dubbed the place that never sleeps, all the bars were closed, with some elderly men at the front of one establishment sitting around and conversing.

At MovieTowne in Invaders Bay, it was a ghost town, as several of the plaza’s restaurants and bars were closed.

Vaughn Loobie, a 46-year-old bank worker, who was sitting outside Trader Jack’s Island Grill, said for the 13 years, he has been working around there, yesterday was the quietest it had ever been.

Loobie said,he was happy to see employers taking this virus issue very seriously, but he expressed concern with the various establishments, not being able to meet their rent obligations due to the closure.

At Rizzoni’s Ristorante Italino upstairs MovieTowne, the manager on shift, Anamika Maharaj, 36, said the business has adopted takeaway and online ordering, but has cut out in-house dining.

Maharaj said, that they are not closed completely and all staff have been rostered in a staggered manner, so that their income would not be affected.

“I am very concerned by this impact, because you want to come and earn an income and we are grateful that our employer has made provisions for them and Rizzoni’s is taking all the necessary precautions to ensure the employees’ safety at the workplaces”.

Casinos concerned

The Royal Princess Casino at MovieTowne, which is usually filled with people, had few patron early yesterday afternoon.

Speaking to the Express, the casino’s human resource manager, Anita Boodram of Chaguanas, said the establishment has 150 employees at present and they are currently struggling to pay staff, due to the reduction in the number of people coming to gamble at the casino.

“While the Prime Minister did not give a mandate for the casinos to close, people are taking precautionary measures,” said Boodram. She assured that the enterprise is sanitising its machines and all customers, are offered face masks and gloves when they enter.

“We are going to have a general meeting soon on what can be done as the general manager said he does not want to send home workers and many of the women employed are single mothers,” Boodram said.

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