A Speightstown restaurateur has demanded answers from police and COVID-19 enforcement officials after she was forced to close her establishment for an apparent breach of a protocol that does not exist.
And she charged that police were possibly used by unnamed competitors to shut down her business, The Crab Hole restaurant.
Linda Field, a 67-year-old chef, revealed that the incident unfolded on August 13, hours before the restaurant’s official opening.
She was shocked when an officer summoned her to the Speightstown Police Station and became even more surprised to be informed that she was in breach of the protocols for attempting to host an “event” without a valid COVID certificate, she said.
Field told Barbados TODAY: “I said ‘excuse me, this is not an event. I am actually opening my restaurant tonight on the beach.’ The officer said, ‘well you cannot have an event.’ I said, ‘this is not an event. I have 30 reservations and we’re all set up’ and he then told me that I can’t open because I need a COVID-19 certificate.”
Puzzled and upset, the businesswoman demanded to find out more about this so-called COVID certificate and who was responsible for reporting her business to the police, but said she received no further clarification.
“So you can imagine how I felt,” said Field.
“I had 30 people booked to come out to dinner for my first night and initially, I was absolutely thrilled because my advertisement went out on TripAdvisor and a lot of people were ringing me to find out about it. So that was it, and I broke down in the police station and cried.”
It was the second time Field has embarked upon such a restaurant venture over the course of the pandemic. She opened a small bistro, The Brunch Club at Limegrove, but that has since closed down, making the latest developments doubly frustrating.
“This has upset me greatly and apparently it’s not legal and I have since checked with the COVID people and no, you do not need a certificate,” said Field. “I know this sounds bad, but I believe one of my competitors stirred up a lot of this, because the police knew about this long before because there were posters around and they walk the streets. Why wait ‘til opening night to do this? “Nobody should go through that, especially when you’ve gone through such great expense to bring some life into Speightstown, to make it a new spot to be, because [fellow restaurant] Local and Co. Barbados is launching next week and I want to be operating at the same time as them.”
When contacted, Police Public Relations Officer, Acting Inspector Rodney Inniss could not immediately confirm the incident but promised to investigate. Head of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit, Ronald Chapman has not yet responded to a Barbados TODAY request for comment.
Undeterred, Field and about a half-dozen employees will later this week attempt to open The Crab Hole once again.
The entrepreneur has also expressed concern about the overall direction of the country’s COVID-19 discussions, including some wellknown businesses that she claims are attempting to isolate unvaccinated workers.
“This is crazy,” Field declared. “This should never happen. People should have a choice.
Every single time they step into a restaurant, they are sanitised, their temperatures are taken; what more? This is nonsensical.”