News Report: Private Sector Hails Curfew's Push Back

by Youri Kemp - Tribune News - 03 December 2020

The Chamber of Commerce's chairman yesterday said the easing of night-time COVID-19 curfews will enable businesses to properly serve customers as the economy moves into the Christmas season.

Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson told Tribune Business in a statement: “With businesses still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19, and the holidays upon us, the further loosening of restrictions by extending the curfew to 10pm means that the business community will be able to operate longer hours and service their customers in a manner that will not encourage crowding.

“The BCCEC (Chamber) welcomes any opportunity for businesses to operate in a way that will meet the demands of the consumer. Christmas time has historically been a particularly busy time for many businesses, and generates revenues to take them into the New Year.”

Mrs Rutherford-Ferguson added: “Greater revenues lead to job creation and sustainability, which can boost recovery efforts. It is important to make the connection between shopping locally, job creation and economic recovery, as every dollar spent locally impacts our economy in a positive way.

"Towards that end, the BCCEC has partnered with the Rotary Club of South-East Nassau and Cable Bahamas Business Solutions in a shop local campaign, which incentives consumers to patronise local businesses. This is a continuation and expansion of the BCCEC’s efforts last year.”

While acknowledging the continued downward trend in positive COVID-19 cases, she added: ”The business community has demonstrated its commitment to implementing the protocols, and we want to highlight those efforts. The BCCEC would like to see this continue, and we encourage the continued adherence to the safety protocols by consumers and businesses.”

Dwayne Higgs, WHIM Automotive's general manager, said of the curfew's push back to a 10pm start: “I think it’s long overdue. We can now open until 5pm. Previously we were closing at 4pm to give staff time to do personal things before getting home for 6pm.”

He added that people can now “enjoy their weekends” without having to rush home to beat the curfew, but reiterated that the best way to beat COVID-19 is to wear masks, social distance and continually sanitise hands.

Mr Higgs, though, voiced concern for industries that are still closed under the Government's emergency orders, such as entertainment and gyms. He said: “There are businesses - especially gyms- that are being forced into closing their doors. Evolve in Palmdale can operate their facility better than a food store can, but are not allowed to open.

"It’s not right. Gyms that can show they follow the protocols should be open – period. They have been e-mailing and calling with no response, and it’s senseless that people can crowd up in a food store or get takeout at McDonald’s but can’t exercise to make themselves healthy and build their immune system.”

Tara Morley, the Bahamas Federation of Retailers (BFR) co-president, said the curfew relaxation was “great” and her members are happy they can now operate regular hours on Saturday.

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