Mon | Jul 26, 2021

Small businesses brace for big COVID hit

Published:Saturday | August 22, 2020 | 12:21 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Clifton James stirs a massive pot of piping-hot soup along Bay Farm Road in Kingston on Friday. James is concerned that the tightened curfew hours that take effect today will cramp business.
Clifton James stirs a massive pot of piping-hot soup along Bay Farm Road in Kingston on Friday. James is concerned that the tightened curfew hours that take effect today will cramp business.

Most business operators canvassed in coronavirus high-risk communities in Kingston and St Andrew are increasingly worried about an anticipated fall-off in commerce when new curfew hours kick in this evening.

The curfew measures, which will run from 7 p.m.-5 a.m. today through to September 2, will affect Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, and Clarendon, parishes that have seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in more than two weeks.

The expansion of curfews by four hours means that bars, shops and other businesses in high-risk areas such as Olympic Gardens, Waltham Gardens, Patrick Gardens, Waterhouse and Cooreville Gardens will be adversely affected.

Clifton James, who operates a soup stand at the intersection of Bay Farm and Cosmos roads, said that the lengthened curfews would deal him a double blow.

“The other time when St Catherine did lock down, business chop in two, because you have a special time between 5:30 and 6 o’clock when the St Catherine people dem a go over, them pass by and hold them one soup and you have a steady flow, so it a go affect me in big way,” James said on Friday.

With a 98-case record one-day spike on Thursday that prompted the Holness administration to further curtail movement, James is very concerned about the coronavirus and thinks everyone else should have that perspective.

“This COVID thing is a world-changing thing, every single day it a go change,” he remarked.

Just as The Gleaner was about to question why James was not wearing a mask, the soup vendor served up this response

“Right now, me shoulda have on mi mask. A lef’ mi lef’ it when mi come out yah, and around 10 car out yah and them want the soup, so me serve them,” he said.

Mauva, who operates a shop as well as an adjoining bar along Olympic Way, said that the new curfew hours will cripple business.

“It a go affect we a lot because a mostly evening time when people come from work we sell. Inna di day, nothing too sell, because people gone a work, but when them come home in the evening, that is when them want dinner things and other stuff fi buy.”

Over in Waterhouse, business was so slow along Balcombe Drive that Deon Brissett and her daughter were playing a game of Ludo in front of her shop. She admitted that business has been very bad since the emergence of COVID-19 in Jamaica on March 10, but was philosophical about the austere measures that take effect today.

“If it haffi happen, it haffi happen, because a fi wi own good,” Brissett declared.

“Me willing fi make the sacrifice because me no waan dead.”

Meanwhile, the Association of Consultant Physicians of Jamaica has come out in support of a statement by the Medical Association of Jamaica in deploring widespread public disregard for health guidelines.

“We appeal to the public, if not for yourself, please, we are asking you to remember your family, your friends, your neighbour, and your community. Any of them could be vulnerable and contract the virus” the consultant physicians said in a press statement.

Limit the spread

1. Maintain social distancing.

2. Wear your masks at all times.

3. Cover your nose and mouth, wash and sanitise your hands.

4. Do not break quarantine.

5. On the campaign trail, political leaders and supporters should observe safety practices.

6. Strongly discourage individuals from gathering without social distancing.