A cut in working hours and a loss of income are some of the negative effects people who work and live in hot spots face because the state of emergency. The state of emergency, declared just five days ago by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, calls for citizens to suffer some inconveniences for the good of the country. While some employers have attempted to be accommodating to their employees, they admit that their options were limited. The 9 pm to 5 am curfew has resulted in a significant reduction in the income of taxi drivers, restaurant workers, workers in the entertainment industry and other hourly-paid workers.
According to Patrice Bernard, the state of emergency was causing a serious decrease in her income.
Bernard, a 28-year-old mother of two, of Chaguanas, said the day after the state of emergency was announced her hours of work had been reduced. "I work in a restaurant and everybody now has to work a daytime shift and even though some of us work for eight hours, we have been scheduled to take up to four days off in the week," she said. "I have a family to feed and I don't know how I am going to do it if this lasts a lot longer. "It's worse for the people who have to go to school and can only work nights because now they can't work at all." A manager of a popular central-based restaurant said loss of income for employees was something that could not be avoided.
"Our opening hours have shortened and so we are trying to divide the hours fairly for our employees," he said. "As for the employees who usually only work at night, there is really nothing we can do." Another woman, Gillian Smit, said she attended night classes in Port-of-Spain and although her institution had made changes to facilitate the curfew, it was still a hassle for people who had families. "On top of the fact that we have to change our entire lives, the traffic situation has worsened for people heading to the south of the country from Port-of-Spain," she said. And while party-goers may not be largely affected by the lack of entertainment prospects in terms of events and parties, the people who rely on the entertainment industry to make a living told a different story.
David Duncan, a DJ who worked both on radio and in parties, said the state of emergency was definitely affecting his income. "Parties and events have been cancelled and night clubs and local liming spots have adjusted their hours, so that means less income for organisers and businesses and definitely less money for DJ's who rely on these jobs to make an income," he said. Duncan said attempts to obtain a curfew permit was met with resistance from police who, according to him, said "media and entertainment was not a high priority." For the past four days, radio shows have been bombarded with callers, from taxi drivers to factory workers, who say that if the state of emergency was extended, they would be unable to support themselves and their families.