‘At some point, the money is going to run out’

Kendrick Dames, a barber of 17 years, said he had to cancel the opening of his barbershop as a result of the prime minister’s order for the closure of non-essential businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It leaves me in a quagmire,” Dames told The Nassau Guardian.

“You know, I have to remain positive. I guess, like the world, you have to get innovative and I guess just try my best.

“It’s just a daily thing you have to think, ‘How am I going to get out? How am I going to sustain myself? Am I going to make money with the emergency powers in place?’

“You know, it’s very difficult because you can’t move, you can’t leave your home.”

Dames said his store was supposed to open on March 22.

However, on March 19, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis imposed a national curfew — from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. — and ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. There are eight confirmed cases on New Providence and one on Grand Bahama as of yesterday.

Dames said his business is at “a complete standstill”.

He said he is considering applying for assistance from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

However, Dames said he’s unsure of his eligibility since his business hasn’t been formally launched.

SBDC’s Business Continuity Loan Program, which launched on Wednesday, provides loans ranging from $5,000 to $300,000.

It requires those eligible to agree to retain 51 percent of their staff and have their credit information shared with the credit bureau and other banking and financial institutions.

One hundred applications have been submitted for loans, according to data from SBDC.

Sarah Bromert-Butterfield, a mother of four, recently applied for one of the loans.

“It would help a great deal because at least I would be able to have the rent current for the place because I’m renting,” said Bromert-Butterfield, who expects to find out next week whether she has been approved for assistance.

“I pay $850 a month for my rental space; that includes my telephone, my cable and the internet and the water. I’m responsible for light, but at least I’ll be able to pay the light [bill] once it’s approved because I think they can give you up to two months’ coverage.”

She has been forced to halt her taxi service and suspend operations at her salon.

Speaking about the latter, Bromert-Butterfield told The Guardian, “Business was booming. I was getting new clientele. I was advertising on Facebook and all of a sudden now I can’t go in and do nails. I can’t go and do basically deliveries of any products.

“Normally, I told you, I used to do it mobile. Persons would call and say they wanted makeup products and I would go and deliver it to them. So, all of that has basically ceased. For the past two weeks, I’ve had basically no income at all.”

Bromert-Butterfield said it will likely be another six months before her salon is able to turn a profit again.

Kimberly Marshall, the owner of Dynasty Café Delight, is in a similar position as Bromert-Butterfield.

She has lost her two sources of income as a result of closures.

“I also operate a cafeteria as well but, again, it’s a school café and that is closed so there’s nothing else coming in,” Marshall told The Guardian.

Marshall said she hopes the government does not extend the curfew, which expires on Tuesday.

She said she doesn’t know “where we will go from here”.

“I’m wondering if we can still go in (the restaurant) where persons can just come in and take out,” Marshall said.

“I don’t know, so we’re just waiting to hear what’s going to happen.

“And I’m hoping, I’m just hopeful and praying that we get a turn for the best where everybody can get back to work. That will mean myself and the staff, we would have to just wait it out.”

Marshall said she is surviving off income from some apartment units she owns as well as “a few dollars” she has saved.

“Right now, we’re just playing it by ear because at one point the money’s going to run out,” she said.

“For right now, again, we’re playing it by ear in hopes that the curfew is lifted for us to get out there and get some stuff sorted out.”

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