Firms limiting business travel in response to COVID-19

Local businesses are clamping down on company travel outside of The Bahamas. Chief Executive Officer of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) Jeffrey Beckles told this paper, yesterday, that several of the Chamber’s members have revealed that they have taken preventative steps to reduce the likelihood that coronavirus (COVID-19) will reach The Bahamas, by cancelling all unnecessary travel for business.

“There are several entities that are taking preventative steps, which are highly recommended, to minimize unnecessary travel,” Beckles said.

“From a Chamber standpoint, we have been in contact with some of our members who have literally cancelled travel that is absolutely unnecessary as a means of contributing to our preventative measures, which we commend the government for putting in place.

“We applaud that decision because at the end of the day our best defense is prevention. Many other countries are doing it and have already started doing it, and I think it’s a credit to the fact that we are taking this thing very seriously.”

Cable Bahamas is one of those firms asking employees to inform it on the whereabouts of their travel, should they leave the country, and to remain home following a trip; all in an effort to thwart the introduction of COVID-19 to The Bahamas or to the workplace, according to a company memo to staff and its Chief Operations Officer John Gomez.

“We are following the government and also the industry guidelines,” Gomez told Guardian Business.

“We met with our staff last week and said to them, we instituted a travel policy first and foremost, that ‘we were shutting down all of the international travel from a corporate perspective.’”

“Anyone who would travel or return, we were requesting that they stay home for a couple of days, even though they were cleared at the airport, before they come back to work. We were asking that they remain off for a couple of days just to make sure they are fine before they come in.”

He added that Cable Bahamas has provided hand sanitizers for its buildings and is encouraging the washing of hands.

“We’ve just decided to take necessary precautions just to make sure staff were fine and to stay as informed as we can as we continue to monitor what’s happening with the COVID-19 virus,” said Gomez.

The Cable Bahamas memo recommended staff “notify their immediate supervisor of any planned recreational travel outside of The Bahamas, to allow the company to properly mitigate against potential risks arising from the coronavirus outbreak”.

The company has recommended that “all company-related travel outside of The Bahamas by employees” be suspended and that “all visits to the company by international vendors” also be suspended.

This paper learned of at least one offshore bank that has also suspended travel for business and that is looking at using technology for meetings. Beckles added that companies are also encouraging good hygiene in the wake of the global, rapid spread of the virus.

“I think it’s important for us to be proactive on the preventative side and we compliment and commend those companies that have done so,” he said.

Yesterday, Atlantis and Baha Mar revealed that conference planners have been looking at The Bahamas – which remains free of the virus – to hold conferences, as many areas in the United States have begun discouraging large group gatherings.

Beckles said while the country remains in a high state of alert over the virus, it also needs to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities.

“We can expect those kinds of shifts to take place,” he said.

“We have to be in a position to take advantage of those opportunities because business can’t stop, and because of that, we must be seen as being ready to take advantage of those opportunities.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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