Sun | May 31, 2020

Businesses welcome extended hours under SOE

Published:Friday | September 20, 2019 | 12:12 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer

Business operators in both Clarendon and St Catherine are pleased with the announcement by National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang that opening hours under the state of public emergency in the parishes will be extended to 11 pm.

The operators had been complaining bitterly, sharing stories of loss as they had to close their doors just when business would be picking up after the crime-fighting initiative was first announced on September 5. They lamented that their earnings had been significantly reduced.

Tony Smatt, businessman and chairman of the May Pen Improvement Business District, told The Gleaner that the extra two hours would make a big difference.

He said that since the SOE, he has had to be closing the mall between 6 and 7 p.m. to allow operators and staff to leave by 9 p.m.

“A lot of the people were upset because I tell everyone to close by 7 p.m. so staff could get taxis to be off the streets,” he said.

With the new hours, he said that the mall could now be open for its regular hours as it would normally close by 9:30 p.m..

Smatt said that other business operators in the group that he chaired had also been expressing relief.

“They were losing money, so they are happy they have a little more time,” he said.

For one May Pen restaurant owner, who did not want to be identified, the extension is welcome news as her company was bleeding. She said that a lot of business operators, including her, were suffering with the 9 p.m. cut-off time but were now feeling more upbeat.

Last week, members of the Old Harbour business community voiced concerns regarding the effect of the early closure, but they are also now singing a new tune.

President of the Old Harbour Chamber of Commerce Adrian Samuda said that while the extension would not address all their concerns, they were grateful for it.

“The business community will still suffer under an 11 p.m. closing time based on the nature of our micro economy, [but] we are in support of this new development and thankful for the extension,” he told The Gleaner.

Patricia Kirlew Garib, general manager of Kaluga Group, was also happy for the extension of opening hours but added that she was hoping that the SOE would not last beyond the extra 30 days approved.

Old Harbour Development Area Committee Chairman Randy Finniken also said the extended opening hours would go a long way in saving the economy in Old Harbour.

“It is a positive move. It shows that at least we are talking and listening, so it will redound to the good of other stakeholders, including the Church, ‘cause I have been to church and see how they hurry up and close the doors because they want to comply with the law,” said Finniken.