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Business owners stressed over new restrictions

The months-long COVID-related restrictions are negatively impacting businesses across The Bahamas.

Kyle Jones, owner of Bon Vivants Cafe and Cocktail Bar, said the nightly curfew, which was implemented more than four months ago, has been particularly impactful on his business.

He said the new 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, which was announced by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis on Friday, will only make things worse.

“Our main business is pretty much from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. which is the bulk of our business,” Jones told The Nassau Guardian.

“Even before this, it was a real blow.  But now we’re down to 6 p.m., it’s a really, really tough pill to swallow.

“Obviously, there is necessary measures taking place for the spread, the health of everybody, so that’s completely understandable. But, you know, hindsight is always 2020.

“There’s definitely some things that we wish would have been done differently to avoid us getting to this position. But, it’s just frustrating. It’s just like the constant deep breath and sigh that I just find myself sitting here and just sighing outwardly because it’s like, ‘What can we do?’

“There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s just a matter of trying to adapt and trying to make ends meet.”

Jones said it has reached the point where his business is just operating to pay its rent.

He said it is no longer operating to make money.

“With the current situation, there’s only so many to-go coffees and to-go drinks you can serve to keep up with your finances,” he said.

“So, it’s really just doing everything. We kept coming up with new ways. You know, we had the cocktails bottles and the to-go cocktails that we began and they really did well for us.

“I think, once we were able to up back up, everybody was moving onto what they know.”

There are 382 cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas

Forty-two of those cases were reported on Friday.

That same day, the prime minister prohibited indoor and outdoor dining at all restaurants. Take away, curbside and delivery services are still permitted.

He also ordered gyms to cease their operations.

This is the second time Jimmy Mackey, owner of MacFit360 gym, has had to close his business in recent months.

The first time was in March when Minnis initially ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses following the first cases of the virus in The Bahamas.

“It’s definitely affecting my business in a whole lot of ways,” he said.

“When I say a whole lot of ways, it’s affecting the people I’ve employed, the trainers I’ve employed who are basically working on a contractual basis. I’m still paying rent. I’m still paying water. I’m still paying cable. I’m still paying VAT (value added tax) and there’s no income.

“So, it’s definitely affecting my whole scope of work.”

Mackey said he hopes the economy will get “going again”.

He expressed frustration with the prime minister not giving a reason for ordering the closure of gyms.

“They never stated it,” Mackey said.

“They never said, ‘Well, this is the reason for closing gyms.’ We just have to basically sit there and pay. There’s no resources.

“There’s no way we can say to our staff, ‘Hey, we can do this for you. We can do that for you.’

“We pretty much have to try to hold on to every cent we have to maintain our bills without any income.”

Stacy Outten, a barber, is also feeling the financial impact of the recent restrictions.

She said her barbershop has not reopened since it closed in March.

“Financially? Things are horrible,” Outten said.

“There are bills still going on. There’s a lot of bills to be paid. You got a lot of rent to pay and I don’t know how that’s going to work.”

She said she doesn’t know how barbers and hair stylists are expected to make it with all of the restrictions implemented as a result of the pandemic.

“The barbershops are getting restricted left, right and center,” Outten said.

“With all these restrictions, they want you to get these disposable capes and disposable this and disposable that. I want to know how you’re supposed to get it if you don’t have the money.

“You were locked down for so long before you start working. Now, you want all these things to be done. Where is the money coming from?”

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