Operators of independent restaurants and bars say Saint Lucia’s current 9.00 pm to 5.00 am curfew and current protocols regarding the sale of liquor are hurting their business.
The operators met Friday to discuss their concerns.
Co-owner of the Buzz restaurant in Rodney Bay , Matthew Hartmann, said the meeting was intended to obtain feedback regarding the state of affairs due to the current COVID-19 situation.
Hartmann told St Lucia Times the restaurant and bar owners want to create a unified voice to project to the Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association (SLHTA) or the government, to restart the restaurant and bar businesses.
“The current legislation does not allow for us to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises,” he observed.
The Saint Lucia businessman explained that for restaurants, serving liquor is an integral part of the dining process.
“People come in, they want to have food and they want to have a bottle of wine or a cocktail to go with their food,” Hartmann told St Lucia Times.
“Unfortunately, the current legislation does not allow us to do so,” he pointed out.
According to Hartmann, that effectively hamstrings an already severely hamstrung industry in that there are very few clients on Island, locally or otherwise s you know.
He expressed the view that those people are less likely to come out if they cannot have their traditional glass of wine with their steak or other food.
On the matter of the current curfew, Hartmann said some consideration needs to be given to restaurants to facilitate their dinner service.
He observed that most restaurants operate for dinner from between 6.00 to 10.00 pm.
“Staff get home for about 11.00 or 12.00 clock,” Hartmann explained.
But he lamented that under the current circumstances, the restaurants cannot open for dinner.
“We’d like the government – the powers that be, to have a look at that and perhaps relax those restrictions,” Hartmann told St Lucia Times.
He described the restaurant and bar industry as one of the most fiercely impacted industries.
The businessman stated that a lot of the staff, besides being front line , are also on the lower end of the socio-economic bracket, which means that they basically live ‘from pay cheque to pay cheque’.
“They live very modestly and they need that money – this Coronavirus pandemic has caused a situation where they cannot earn besides what the government has been able to do,” he asserted.
However he declared that unless the restaurants and bars open and are able to hire staff again, the monies they are being given by the government will run out.