Dr Patrick Antoine

‘BLOCK DELIVERIES’: Dr Patrick Antoine, centre, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Beverage Alcohol Alliance (TTBAA), fields questions from the media during yesterday’s press conference at their headquarters in Woodbrook. Flanking him are Brian Frontin, left, Group CEO of the Trinidad Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Association (THRTA), and Teron Mohan, president of the Bar Owners/Operators Association of T&T. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

BAR owners, beware.

If you fail to comply with the policies put in place by the State that currently govern the operations of your business, you may soon be blacklisted by the Trinidad and Tobago Beverage Alcohol Alliance (TTBAA).

Should the policies not be adhered to, the TTBAA said it has met with some of its stakeholders and a decision had been agreed upon which entails the withholding of deliveries and supply of products to those businesses.

Also, a hotline, 277-7378 (SERV), has been established and will be operational from today allowing members of the public to report unscrupulous bar owners. This comes after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley warned on Saturday that he will again move to shut down such establishments, just one week after they were allowed to reopen, if owners were to continue to breach health guidelines put in place due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The latest decision was announced yesterday during a joint news conference hosted by the TTBAA, the Trinidad Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Association (THRTA), and the Bar Owners/Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT).

Dr Patrick Antoine, president of the TTBAA, stated that he and the other stakeholders were “extremely concerned” over the practice of non-compliance with Government’s regulations by a few errant bar owners.

Antoine pointed out that the irresponsible behaviour by some of them had the potential of sending thousands of employees who worked in bars across the country back on the breadline if the State is again forced to shut down such establishments.

Antoine said the TTBAA is a body comprised of 90 per cent of the manufacturers, producers and marketers of alcohol in Trinidad and Tobago and that, from today, those bodies that constitute the TTBAA will begin withholding supplies to any bar owner should they be found acting outside of the guidelines.

“We are here to not just talk the talk but we have to be prepared to walk the walk... We are going to be trying to work with the police department in identifying where there is a problem so that we can address them, so that we can nip it in the bud before it impacts on things that threaten the commons (employees),” said Antoine.

Not only that, but Antoine said where bar owners continue to be non-compliant, the closure of such businesses by the State is being supported by all stakeholders.

“Trinidad and Tobago bar owners, we are calling on you to work with us, we are calling on you to work with yourself, we are calling on you to understand and to be empathetic to the fact that you have employees,” said Antoine.

Brian Frontin, Group CEO of THRTA, said it was the responsibility of each bar owner or operator to ensure that each establishment is safe and that their staff members were well-trained in the “new normal”.

“Many owners over the past week have placed physical systems in place without thinking through the human element of changing mindsets, not of the patrons, but of their staff, of their management team, and that is what I believe is causing the challenge,” he said.

It is for this reason that Frontin said free online training workshops have been put in place by the THRTA in an attempt to have bar owners and their employees become familiar with the guidelines by which they are now required to operate.

One of those sessions will take place tomorrow and the other on Tuesday. Both sessions begin at 10 a.m.

“Some bars and restaurants have already subjected themselves to the training but we need more persons to understand why it is important. There are several breaches of fundamental guidelines and principles and having a staff meeting with your employees speaking of the guidelines does not constitute training.

“...Bar owners are invited to subscribe for it to be done online. That conversation will give you the interpretation of the guidelines on a standardised level,” he said.

Teron Mohan, interim president of BOATT, pointed out that it had only been one week since bars were allowed to re-open and there have already been multiple complaints of non-compliance.

He said significant financial losses had been incurred by bar owners over the past three months, with employees also being on the breadline.

If such unscrupulous behaviour by a minority continues, then Mohan said he can foresee in the near future a “fatal blow” being suffered by the industry that “may result in us very well seeing the end of such businesses in Trinidad and Tobago”.

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