Trinidad and Tobago: (UNC) Northeast Regional Coordinator- Neil Gosine stated that shutting down without any vaccine plan does not make any sense and is a disaster.
He asserted, “T&T should not be in this position, having closed our borders since March 2020. This is infuriating. Many owners of the bars, restaurants, gyms, fitness centres, spas, barbershops, beauty salons, cinemas and theatres are in a severe financial state and about to collapse, even as the government shuts down the country again with restrictions to a complete lockdown until May 23.”
Neil Gosine added, “Still, in the reality, it looks like it may be extended. These businesses are seriously cash strapped after executing many cost-saving measures, including salary reductions for all the staff, to keep sailing as this lockdown continues, the business owners cannot see a way out of the debt and manage their finances to stay in the business.”
“If we speak Financially, all companies, especially – in the food and beverage industry worldwide, have faced challenges to survive during the Covid-19 pandemic, and now many are on their last leg. In the wake of infections reaching the highest we have seen till date, we can understand the knee jerk reaction to a lockdown, but really, we must ask, how is this happening after 15 months of managing the COVID-19 pandemic by the government led by Dr Keith Rowley?,”-cited Gosine.
He further added that the burden is on the citizens and is at breaking levels as salaries for most of these workers have been reduced by 50 per cent, with their workweek. Many workers are on the breadline where, again, most of them have been put on no-pay leave, even though these business owners have tried to keep their businesses floating by taking initiatives such as- kerbside take out, delivery service and pick-up orders.
“They have tried their best to work with the government and observe the pandemic protocols upon rules. However, it’s not enough. They are at their end. They have tried everything so far, and many have obeyed the laws and pandemic restrictions imposed since inception. However, nothing seems to work in these trying times,”- Gosine.
He further showed his concern over the business owners and stated, “Business owners and citizens are stressed out and fed up with doing what is right and getting a nowhere no solution and no plan to get out of this problem. With continued stress on businesses and salary reductions for their employees for unknown, extended periods, it is just unbearable, and bouffs from our Prime Minister blaming us is just not cutting it anymore.”
“Before this pandemic, the situation was already challenging, but continued stop-start, with shutting down, open up, then shut down, and reduced working hours have taken a toll, and this latest blow to lock down basically everything has again dealt a massive blow to businesses’ revenue and survival efforts.”
He targeted the government and added, “The Government has no clue of what to do to control the spread of this deadly virus and is running out of time. Many businesses have closed their doors for good, and many more are about to bite the dust as the Government focuses on everything other than that what is in front of us.The economic downturn, rising crime, people on the breadline and failure after failure.”
“The Government cannot even recognise that our people are stressed out, tired, hurting and on the verge of collapse, even after they have done everything humanly possible, including making cuts, tightening their belts, minimising staffing down to performing the bare essential for operations, and still it’s just not enough,”- he added.
He concluded by saying that “We are bankrupt of ideas, and with funds running extremely low as foreign currency is in minuscule supply. There is an upsurge in Covid-19, reaching its highest figure on Thursday with 328 positive cases. This is very alarming.”
“Further, without putting in place any allocation of resources to support low-income earners and businesses, it is a recipe for disaster for our citizens and their families. Without proper leadership, with new innovations and initiatives to combat this pandemic.”