Marcella Scarlett, Business Reporter
Manufacturers were ramping up operations last night after close to two days of inactivity, while retailers said their stores would be fully back in business today, Friday, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy which hit the island at category-one strength on Wednesday.
The shuttering of business and the graduated return to normalcy contrasted with Hurricane Sandy, which, energised by its Jamaican experience, continued onto the Caribbean as a category two storm.
Food operations, including KFC, as well as other retail operations announced they were open for business Thursday and urged workers to show for duty "if it was safe to do so".
Some manufacturers resumed full production shifts from last night.
"First shift for many will start at 6 p.m. tonight because things are basically back to normal and we have had no major damage," Brain Pengelley, President of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) told the Financial Gleaner yesterday.
"We should be looking very good by tomorrow but we should be back to normal fully come Monday," he said.
Meantime, gas stations were mostly back in business having reluctantly closed operations for the storm.
The Jamaica Gasolene Retailers' Association (JGRA) said most gas stations did not expect to have major damage but were forced to close because of the curfew. They were back to routine operations Thursday.
"We didn't have much of a challenge. Most of our members are up and running. Some of us were closed (Wednesday), not because of the storm but because of the curfew that was imposed," said Trevor Heaven, president of the JGRA.
"We see ourselves as an essential service and the storm would not affected us much," he said.
There were no reports of any major damage from the JMA membership.
"The worse is that many of them are still without power, but hopefully power will return soon," Pengelley said.
At 10 a.m. Thursday, Jamaica Public Service Company said electricity had been restored to 50 per cent of Jamaica. About 70 per cent of Jamaica was without power during the storm.
The JMA president said that most of the larger members, the ones most likely to start production from last night, have their own generators.
Francis Kennedy, president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), said the JCC membership would resume normal business tomorrow as no major damage was reported due to the hurricane as well.
"Everybody is trying to clean up. It was more of trees down and wetness in the area and power outage. There are still power outages right now in some areas. What everybody is trying to do is clean up and try to get back on track but we expect to be back into full operation by tomorrow," Kennedy said.
Hurricane Sandy swept across the island on Wednesday, landing first on the south coast moving north, and affecting all 14 parishes.