Under the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee plan released yesterday, straw markets will look and operate differently as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19), including operating at only 50 percent of capacity when they reopen.
The plan calls for straw vendors to wear face masks and gloves and for markets to be reconfigured to ensure physical distancing can be maintained. The plan also recommends that vendors open during “peak” times.
The plan recommends “the structuring of merchant times to reflect peak visitor times, thereby reducing overcrowding to ensure physical distancing”.
It also seeks to “ensure that lines are monitored with extra staffing during peak times”.
The plan also recommends the installation of barriers between all vendor booths, the reconfiguration of straw market locations to accommodate physical distancing and the introduction of satellite market sites to discourage overcrowding.
“As a staple of The Bahamas’ orange economy and tourism product, straw vendors (operating in straw markets and on other premises) must protect themselves and facilitate protective measures for patrons,” the plan states.
The plan for the straw markets will also require that hand sanitizing dispensers be made available; that instructional signs in several languages be posted; thermal screening be performed daily and that straw vendors are trained on the new protocols.
The plan outlines new protocols for every tourism sector participant, including hotels, taxis, tour operators and bus drivers.
While the government hopes to reopen the tourism sector by July 1, the cruise sector, which is an important component for straw vendors, will likely not return until August.