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GB Chamber of Commerce on lockdown: Another huge hit to businesses

The two-week lockdown mandated to stem the spread of COVID-19 on Grand Bahama will be another huge hit for the island’s businesses and economy just as it was starting to rebound, Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce President Greg Laroda said yesterday.

Since the country’s borders reopened earlier this month, Grand Bahama has seen the highest and fastest spike in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic hit The Bahamas.

Laroda said he expects some small businesses may not survive the economic blow from this second outbreak on the island.

“Of course, none of us can be certain of exactly how far reaching the effects would be. But needless to say as far as business on Grand Bahama goes, especially those that are not considered to be essential services businesses, I think this is going to be another huge hit to those businesses to be locked down for two weeks basically, right at a time when some of them were trying to see if they can bounce back from the double hit of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic,” he told Guardian Business yesterday.

“I’m sure there will probably be some more casualties along the way, of small businesses that would be struggling to survive, but we have to make the most of it.”

Grand Bahamas has recorded 51 cases of COVID-19 since July 8. In response, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced a two-week lockdown for the island, to take effect on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and end on Friday, August 7 at 5 a.m.

Only food stores, pharmacies, gas stations, water depots, the Grand Bahama Humane Society and the island’s waste disposal and sanitation companies will be permitted to open during weekdays while the lockdown is in effect.

“I understand the position that the prime minister is in and the concern and the need to try and get the virus under control. I think, if you can find something good in it, I think the good thing in it is that the industrial companies are still being allowed to operate. You know they are responsible for a sizeable section of employment on the island, so those activities would continue. And then the stores, especially those providing essential services, are still allowed to open through the day, so persons are able to still go and get food and the other necessities that they need to have in place during the two-week lockdown,” Laroda said.

“So I think we have to just try and make the most of it right now and stick to the social distancing when we do go out, wearing the proper PPE (personal protective equipment) and wearing them properly and then staying home when we don’t have to go out. That’s the only way I think we’re going to get past this in a short period of time. Because if we don’t, after the two weeks we’ll probably be seeing an extension and none of us want that. So again, while it’s not something that we’re happy about, we’ll just try and make the most of it.”

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