After being permitted to reopen to the public as of Friday, after months of closure, the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay appeared almost unchanged over the weekend.
Despite a rainy forecast and brief showers, crowds came out to welcome the reopening of one of New Providence’s quintessential cultural locales.
When The Nassau Guardian visited yesterday, several stalls seemed to be already back in the swing of things, blaring music as clustered groups sat at outdoor tables or benches.
Some couples or small groups could also be seen walking about the area – many of them not wearing masks.
Workers stood or sat around their respective stalls chatting loudly, and a few bars had patrons crowded around.
But several stalls remained closed; and a masked police officer stationed near the barricaded entrance closest to the line of stalls itself was one of the few indicators that the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet passed.
The officer’s duty, he said, was to direct traffic in an attempt to avoid too much crowding in one area, which included preventing a taxi from driving through to stop in front of the stalls.
Eddie Dormeus, the owner of Brother Eddie’s Kitchen, said he’s just happy to be allowed to reopen on the whole.
“I could work with something; I can’t work with nothing at all,” he said. “You know what it is, three months to be home not doing nothing?”
Adding that he has approached the reopening cautiously, Dormeus also said, “For the most part, I’ve seen the regular [customers], and then I’ve seen one or two people that spilled over.
“Like yesterday, if you were here yesterday, you would’ve swear thought that this was Mardi Gras or Junkanoo… .
“The young people are so enthused to come out. So, they just were excited to get out the house. And I was really glad to see that amount of people out here yesterday also.”
Videos that made the rounds on social media over the weekend appeared to show Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis visiting Arawak Cay and observing groups of patrons gathered at tables or walking around the area.
In the video, most people, aside from the prime minister and those accompanying him, did not appear to be wearing face masks.
But Ashanti Richardson, a manager at Curly’s Restaurant and Bar, which reopened on Friday, said their team has been making every effort to ensure that patrons are following the new health protocols required for restaurants like those at Arawak Cay to operate.
Asked if she was worried that health concerns might cause the government to close the area down again, Richardson said: “I feel like we should all have a fair chance to it.
“We’re abiding by the rules, so hopefully because we listen and abide by the rules it doesn’t affect us. But if changes do come, we do understand and we’re prepared.”
Richardson added, “People have been coming in and slowly but surely, everyone has been welcome and comfortable and we’re coming along.”
Kevin Russell, proprietor of Sumptin Good, said he’s also adjusting to the new normal and doing his best to keep his staff safe.
He told The Guardian he believes that stalls trying to offer entertainment are a concern due to patrons “hanging out”, but that his business was strictly curbside pickup, with limited outdoor seating options.
“I guess this is the new normal so we’re kind of adjusting to the new thing,” Russell said.
“We’ve got people who are employed [and] something is better than nothing. So, this is what it is now so we’ve got to live with it.”
He added, “So as a whole, Arawak Cay, we’re adjusting. A lot of people feel like, ‘Oh, it shouldn’t happen,’ but people have got to live.”