IDB report suggests paying closer attention to informal economy in virus fight

An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) series on controlling the transmission of COVID-19 in the tourism sector in Latin America and the Caribbean suggests governments and tourism organizations consider paying special attention to potential hazards in the informal economy, given that the pandemic has put so many people out of work.

The IDB series, “Recommendations to Minimize the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission in the Latin America and the Caribbean Tourism Sector”, explains that this informal trade sector is often most prevalent in the sale of food, drinks, other items, and transport.

“The situation of people who work in the informal economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic, not only due to receiving less income as a consequence of the limitations and restrictions on movement, but also when often finding themselves unable to access the offered social cover for legally established companies and workers,” the report stated.

“In these circumstances, people working in the informal economy have continued providing their services, thereby creating a risk for themselves and other people since they do not always comply with the required prevention measures (for example, appropriate use of the mask, frequent hand sanitizing after every transaction, maintaining the safety distance, respiratory etiquette, etc.).

“Furthermore, they do not undergo the same health checks for COVID-19 prevention like most frontline workers in the formal economy.”

While the IDB report explains that it does not have a definitive solution to the “broad and complex” informal economy and its relationship to COVID-19 transmission, it is interested in drawing the attention of “competent authorities” to it.

The report calls for those governments to take those in the informal economy into account when considering COVID-19 protocols.

The government promised to regularize a group of coconut water sellers Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis called the “coconut boys”, in an effort for their businesses to be legitimized and their operations to adhere to COVID-19 sanitation standards.

However, some of those operations across New Providence can be seen continuing to operate in breach of certain standards. 

“… It is essential for the competent authorities to establish mechanisms to guarantee that the informal economy also applies measures to minimize the risk of infection from COVID-19,” the IDB report reads.

“Those mechanisms should not only cover their implementation, but also their communication and control. For this to occur, tourism organizations and tourism associations should work hand-in-hand to recommend that the competent authorities act on this matter swiftly.”

The report suggested government and tourism agencies identify those informal service providers in tourism spaces; train them on preventative measures against COVID-19 and carry out contact tracing; explain virus transmission to them and how to protect themselves and others; encourage them to wear a mask and sanitize frequently, providing them with masks if necessary; and carry out random testing and monitoring of those individuals.

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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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