Derek Chin

MovieTowne owner: Derek Chin

Business owners are worried that the roll-back of Covid-19 restrictions could exceed more than three weeks if the virus is not brought under control.

The restrictions to prohibit in-house dining at restaurants, casinos and cinemas were announced yesterday by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

MovieTowne owner Derek Chin told the Express yesterday he decided to close his cineplexes at Invaders Bay, C3 in San Fernando and Lowlands in Tobago for the three-week lockdown.

He said from an economic point of view it did not make sense if patrons could not eat and drink while watching a movie.

“This announcement is disappointing. Just when we thought things were gradually going back to normalcy we have to roll back once again. My opinion is, there should have been restrictions for the Easter as that is where the spikes are coming from. Thousands of persons were on the beaches and some measure of restriction should have been implemented,” he said.

CinemaOne Ltd and Caribbean Cinemas Trinidad have opted to remain open but announced that their concession stands will be closed from today.

Chief executive at CinemaOne Ltd Ingrid Jahra said the company made the decision to remain open in the hope that the numbers will start decreasing as the days go by.

She said: “I hope also that the vaccination programme can be accelerated as well, because that will be part of the solution. We would see how not having consumption of food and drink affects the movie-going and then make a decision on whether we will stay open for the three weeks,” she said.

On Ariapita Avenue in Port of Spain yesterday, Mai Thai restaurant owner Ronnie Moses argued that Covid-19 regulations were being mismanaged by the Government and restaurants and bars were always the soft targets.

“Before, I praised the Government for how they were steering the nation through the pandemic, but now I surely cannot say the same. You need to get the population inoculated, that is the only forward step. I don’t believe these new restrictions will be three weeks, it would be extended just like what happened last year.”

Moses said the industry is hurting and he now has to dip into his profits to pay staff members.

Peter George, proprietor of several restaurants, including Trotters and Buzo, shared the same sentiment as Moses that restaurants continue to be targets.

George questioned where the cases are originating from.

He noted that 50,000 people went to Tobago for the Easter holidays, so there must be a spike because social distancing was not always practised.

“At restaurants, numbers are controlled and Covid protocols must be observed. I met with my management team yesterday and told them that all 250 staff members at my establishments would continue to work as usual for the next three weeks, and we would concentrate on curbside. One can only hope it is not extended,” George said.

Owner of Bungalow Restaurant on Rust Street in Woodbrook Navin Boodhai said he has decided to remain closed as curbside service is not sustainable for his establishment.

“When we open our doors on a daily bases it costs over $3,000. We will not be making that kind of money with curbside. Bungalow was now picking up from lockdown last year and persons started booking the place for private functions. This has put a damper on things.”

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