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40% Capacity Should be for Places of Worship, Not Bars

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5th of February, 2021. Guyana, South America.

Last updated: February 5, 2021 at 23:02 pm

Dear Editor,

I read with alarm and bewilderment a few days ago that the President of Guyana has provisioned for a reopening of bars and restaurants at 40% capacity while places of worship are only allowed 25% of their seating capacities. I must say that I was shocked and dismayed by this development.

I acknowledge that a few friendly drinks do not harm anyone, and that the bar has its place in society as a place of leisure and relaxation. When utilized in the right way, the “rum shop” as the local man would put it, adds social and recreational value to the environment. But at the same time, it would be detrimental to ignore the fact that bars have been and continue to be misused by men (and to a lesser extent, women) who have a tendency to consume more than the recommended limit of alcohol intake. This is especially true in Guyana where alcoholism and its damaging effects is a serious problem to be addressed.

Being the President of the Humanitarian Mission Guyana Inc, my team and I battle on a daily basis against the harmful effects of alcohol on an individual, family and national level. We have seen firsthand the tears of women who have been abused by alcoholic spouses, the neglect of children whose fathers have become “married” to the rum shop and the deaths, maiming and destruction that have resulted from the poisonous scourge of alcohol abuse.

The president, His Excellency Dr. Irfaan Ali, was quoted in a News Source article as saying that it is in the interest of the economy and survival of the small businesses (bars) that such a decree was passed to facilitate a 40% capacity for bars. If we look at the rippling effects of alcohol intake: driving under influence and accidents that occur as a result, domestic violence, negligence, financial bankruptcy, suicide, violence including murder and so much more, we can only deduce that green-lighting bars plays a meager (or non-existent) role in pushing the national economy – even though it might appear to do so superficially.

On this note, we would like to urge the President to clamp down on the all those “bottom house” rum shops – that is, non-licensed bars which do not pay the required taxes and duties thus playing a double role in stagnating the country’s economy.

On the other hand, it should be the religious places of worship which should be given the maximum possible operating capacity. It is there that people go to connect with God and to purify their souls. It is the place of worship that teach us to be our brother’s keeper and take better care of ourselves and families, and in general, become better human beings – while the bars do the opposite.

Again, let’s put things into perspective. An intoxicated person has a lower level of awareness than a sober person. People at the bars are less likely to adhere to COVID-19 protocols than those at places of worships, and they are far more likely to spread the virus than those who go to churches. Where then is the logic in allowing for 40% capacity at bars and 25% at churches?

In closing, I’d like to make a resounding, sobering call to the President and all those in authority to correct this grave error in the interest of all Guyanese.


Mr. Suresh Sugrim

President of the Humanitarian Mission Guyana Inc.

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