Bar operator says Jamaicans will find creative ways to drink their liquor

May 14, 2020
Terri-Ann Hylton
Terri-Ann Hylton

Bar owner Terri-Ann Hylton is hoping that the two-week period for the reopening of bars will be the beginning of a turnaround for the subsector.

"My businesses have been closed since March 16. I have lost $250,000 and I still have to pay rent and I still have to pay light bill," said Hylton, who operators a bar and provides liquor on consignment in Litchfield, Trelawny.

The closure of bars was among measures implemented by the Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. After much outcry from bar owners, Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Monday announced that bars may reopen under strict conditions, starting on Tuesday.

Hylton, like the more than 10,000 other bar operators on the island, said the difficulties with paying bills and not earning is overwhelming, and welcomes the move by the Government to help struggling operators.


When reopened, bar operators must ensure that physical distancing is maintained, no group games or stools must be inside, masks must be worn and only five persons, including the bartender, will be allowed inside at a time. There was even a contemplation for bartenders to wear face shields and aprons.

"Instead of asking how people a guh drink through mask ... Jamaicans are creative, if they want to drink their alcohol they will find a way to drink it ... It is better to be making a $1,000 per day than not making any at all."

Hylton said while bar sales may not be high until COVID has left us, she is willing to do what it takes to earn.

"Operators, it is time to get creative. You don't have to have four persons sitting in a bar and risk losing another four. You can set up a buy-and-go special that runs every 30 minutes. There is so much that you can do to ensure you get your customers and still be safe ... Talk to your customers, you will be surprised that they won't be as difficult as you think."

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