President of the Barkeepers and Operators Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BOATT) Satesh Moonasar is calling on the acting Police Commissioner to properly advise his officers on the regulations governing the safe zones.
In an interview with Guardian Media yesterday Moonasar said he had gotten complaints from members in Penal that seemed to be contrary to the Public Health Regulations in place for safe zones.
“We have been getting calls from bar owners where the TTPS special team has been going around and basically telling the bar owners that they are not allowed to have anybody or any dine-in once they have a retailers license, no one is allowed a soft drink or anything on the compound, which is in contravention of the actual health ordinance,” Moonasar said.
He said under the safe zone initiative, cinemas, gyms and betting houses were allowed to have 50 per cent capacity and allowed to run their approved gaming machines.
“The only prohibition we have now is no consumption of alcohol on the compound and only vaccinated persons are allowed into the safe zone. Clearly what is happening in the Penal district is not right.”
Moonasar said he had also received complaints from the Barataria area about amusement gaming machines but he did not elaborate, saying he wanted to focus on the issue facing his members in Penal.
He said issues with police in that area were not new.
“This is a district where since the association started, we have been getting multiple complaints from that district when it comes to the TTPS and bar owners are afraid to come forward for fear of being victimised by the officers.”
Moonasar said the police officers in that district were enforcing incorrect regulations and he wants the TTPS to correct this.
He is suggesting more training for officers.
“We need to have the inspectors who are coming out from the TTPS to be properly educated on what are the regulations because clearly the information that they are giving is wrong and that has nothing to do with the regulations, it is clear in the regulation that we are allowed 50 per cent capacity and it is even in the TT safe zone sign that we have to put up.”
He said enforcement of the law should be accurate and equitable. Moonasar said he was told that police are going into bars only and not other establishments now allowed to open under the safe zone.
“We need equitable enforcement and we need officers who are going out to safe zones to be clear on what is allowed and what is not allowed and it cannot be different from district to district,” he said.
Guardian Media tried contacting acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob but there was no response to calls and messages sent to his cellphone.