Some bar owners decry big losses due to continued closure

With a business that has been crippled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Co-owner of Tight Pockets Sports Bar on Cowpen Road Amber Johnson said yesterday she has seen many social spots open for business since Monday, but is concerned that bars are still unable to operate.

“We’re stuck at a standstill,” Johnson said.

“It feels like some are being treated better than others, if I’m being honest.”

Delshanice Christie, owner of Parking Lot Sports Bar, shared the same view.

“If you are going to allow people to sit down to eat and drink, why can’t you allow people to just sit down and drink? It makes no sense to me,” she said.

“If someone is providing a clean environment, a healthy environment and practicing social distancing in their environment, then it shouldn’t be a problem with them sitting down drinking if they can sit down and eat somewhere.”

On August 24, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced in a national address that many businesses are permitted to reopen while following the appropriate health protocols.

Bars were not included.

“We had ample time to prepare with the necessary hand sanitizers and PPEs, so I don’t see why we can’t be open,” Johnson said.

“The prime minister should implement stricter penalties for those who don’t follow the protocols. I think that would be better. Give everybody a chance to operate within those guidelines. Be fair to everyone.”

Although the bar offers a takeout service, Johnson is waiting to see if the country will be closed again.

“He would come on and give us two weeks to open,” she said.

“He would come back and close us down. It is just too much up-and-down. We spent money on stocking up and had to close down. We want to see some kind of normalcy and the prime minister needs to address it before we make a move.”

Giffon Swan, who owns Fiffplace Restaurant and Bar, said he has lost nearly $100,000 due to the lockdowns.

Swan said although his restaurant is open for curbside pickup, it’s not an ideal situation for him.

“It just doesn’t work for what I am trying to do,” he said. “People don’t come out ‘til the evening.

“We’re doing it outdoors and in the middle of the day, it’s really hot. What I’m looking for are extended hours. Give people some time to make money until it’s time to close up. I don’t want them to think they doing us a favor by allowing us to open up.”

He said utility companies show no mercy when bills are due.

“BPL (Bahamas Power and Light) came and turned us off during the pandemic,” Swan said. “I had to come up with $4,000 to be reconnected. Every time we close and open back up, it’s a cost.”

Swan said operating his business this way presents challenges.

“We need to make money,” he said. “We can’t operate like that because we are not known to be a full restaurant outside. We are now merging towards our restaurant side more than ever. If I don’t use the restaurant, my employees will be out of a job and I will be closed.”

Christie, whose bar is located on Montrose Avenue, also said her business has suffered a huge loss.

“Still paying rent,” she said.

“Some landlords aren’t giving you a break. They are charging full price. You still have to pay your light bill for the freezers. The cable bill has to be paid regardless if it’s on or not.”

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Italia Clarke

Italia Clarke joined the Nassau Guardian in August 2020. Clarke covers national, human interest and social issues. Education: University of The Bahamas, BA in Media Journalism

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