Soaka Till Snnrise

FLASHBACK - No COVID-19 fear: Hundreds of party goers soak in the performance of Kees Dieffenthaller during the annual Carnival fete "Soaka Till Sunrise" breakfast party at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain,  - Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

PARTIES at clubs and on boats remains on hold.

Responding to a question posed on Saturday during the virtual press conference to update on Covid-19 in this country, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said the recommendation for the re-opening of the entertainment industry had not yet been given by the Ministry of Health.

The question concerning this was posed electronically to Minister of Communications, Donna Cox. She read, “When is the entertainment industry, namely party promoters, DJs, music artistes, sound system owners, club owners, party boat owners, bar security personnel, when are they going to get to ply their honest trade like everyone else … They said that they have been patient but they would like to know what is happening?”

Parasram said the Ministry of Health had not yet prescribed for this to occur. He said, "I could speak to the public health issues, I don't know if any of the ministers can answer in terms of when but we left that group of persons for last because as you know, in those particular instances, there are very close contact of individuals. Persons are in extremely close contact in those scenarios, they are small, confined spaces, so they are at great risk of spread of infectious diseases generally. The Ministry of Health, in our continuing reports to the Minister of National Security as well as Minister of Health, has not made that recommendation, we have left that recommendation for later on. So no definite time frame from my side.”

Deyalsingh responded, “It is the Ministry of Health’s team that advises and works with the Minister of National Security and that eventually advises the Prime Minister. All of these industries are honest people and we acknowledge that. When you look at what is happening around the world, the industries that are being shut down, again it’s not because they are dishonest or honest, it has to do with (sic) certain industries, unfortunately, lend themselves to being their own epicentres of new outbreaks.”

He added, “Unfortunately it is being noticed around the world in social settings; bars, restaurants, night clubs, party boats, we acknowledge that these are honest past-times, that these are honest businessmen. So, it has nothing to do with how honest they are, we acknowledge the honesty but you also have to pay attention to what is happening around the world and when you have to shut down a whole economy because one part of that economy is problematic, the ripple effects are huge. So we are not punishing anybody, we are not saying that you don’t matter, we are not saying that you are dishonest, what we are saying is that to protect the gains that we have made as a country, as we reopen the economy, and the whole economy is being reopened, we have no choice but to pay attention to that potential epicentre that could come from one industry. These are very hard decisions to make. Again, we empathize with bar owners, we empathize with DJs, party boats but simply, at this point in time, we have to be ultra-careful so that the entire country doesn’t have to shut down again which will bring with it a whole new set of problems, a whole new set of restrictions. So let’s go steady and sure with this.”

The Barkeepers and Owners Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) has threatened to take legal action over the change of its operating hours. After a week of bars being allowed to open, videos circulated on social media showing large gatherings, in contravention of the public health regulations. Minister of National Security Stuart Young then announced a new closing time of 10 p.m. to 8 p.m. The bar owners however said, due to the reduced time, they have been experiencing between 50 to 75 percent losses on a daily basis. They staged a protest opposite the Prime Minister’s Whitehall office on Thursday.