As businesses throughout the capital prepare to reopen next week Monday, the business community stated it was relieved another lockdown was not announced, however, one community advocate said many businesses will remain disadvantaged despite relaxed restrictions.
Following Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ announcement that commerce could resume for businesses able to provide curbside services, delivery services and outdoor dining, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) Chair Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson said yesterday the measures are “a good start for the business community”.
“Allowing businesses that have been closed – predominantly in the retail and restaurant sectors – the ability to offer contactless services through delivery and curbside pickup, is progress. However, we acknowledge that many of our members not able to offer delivery and curbside pickup due to the nature of the goods and services they offer will not be permitted to open,” she told Guardian Business.
“Therefore, we look forward to a full resumption of commercial activity, while adhering to the COVID-19 health and sector-specific protocols, many of which have been developed in collaboration with the BCCEC.”
The return of commerce announced by the prime minister is a complete reversal of the total lockdown – including essential businesses – that was announced just a week ago and met with public furor.
Rutherford-Ferguson last week criticized the announcement and recommended that instead of continued lockdowns, a greater emphasis be placed on enforcing adherence to COVID-19 protocols and penalizing any person or business not in adherence.
“I am pleased to see that the government of The Bahamas clearly gave strong consideration to the recommendations of the BCCEC and implemented many of them,” Rutherford-Ferguson said.
She added, “Many businesses have undertaken the cost of implementing the COVID-19 health and safety protocols to protect their staff, patrons and to comply with the emergency orders. We all have an individual and collective responsibility, which calls for a community effort, discipline and determination.”
Rutherford-Ferguson said while the BCCEC awaits the release of the emergency orders that will codify the announcements made by the prime minister and provide further details on the businesses that will be permitted to open, it joins in espousing the importance of Bahamians and residents wearing masks, washing their hands frequently and practicing social distancing, with a recognition that enforcement and vigilance is key.
“We continue our dialogue with the various consultative bodies on protocols and economic recovery and we remain committed to ongoing dialogue with the government, as the country navigates the challenges imposed by COVID-19,” she said.