Mon | Nov 29, 2021

Negril’s small businesses taking a ‘curfew’ beating

Published:Saturday | December 19, 2020 | 12:09 AMHopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writer
Devon James, operator of Best in the West Grill, and staff members waiting for their first customer of the day on Wednesday.
Devon James, operator of Best in the West Grill, and staff members waiting for their first customer of the day on Wednesday.
Business operator and president of Negril Chamber of Commerce, Richard Wallace
Business operator and president of Negril Chamber of Commerce, Richard Wallace
Matthew Wallace, the operator of Matthew’s Restaurant, and his hopeful staff waiting to see if they will get some business before the start of the curfew.
Matthew Wallace, the operator of Matthew’s Restaurant, and his hopeful staff waiting to see if they will get some business before the start of the curfew.
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WESTERN BUREAU:

Some business operators in Westmoreland are not pleased with a recent decision by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to alter the COVID-19 curfew hours in the parish and are publicly voicing their disagreement.

The disgruntled business operators told The Gleaner that the new time period of 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. is outrageous, and they want the prime minister to consider the millions of dollars they will be loosing over the next two weeks.

Popular business operator, Devon James, the owner and operator of Best in the West Jerk Spot, located on Norman Manley Boulevard, said the new curfew time has affected his business significantly.

“This has affected my business significantly because dinner time is the main time when tourists come to a place like mine, and dinner time anywhere in Negril is 7 o’clock, so all the tourist will now be staying within the all-inclusive hotels, and won’t be coming out to dinner,” James said.

“We have been closed since March 20, shortly after the COVID-19 broke out in Jamaica, and we reopened only a week ago and he was trying to blend with the 10 p.m., cut off time, but this new time situation is madness.” The 10 o’clock was good for me because we could do the dinner time, but this new time has dealt my business and all small businesses in Negril a serious blow,” he added.

James, whose business usually operate with two shifts but can’t now because of the cut in his earning power, said businesses like his are at a disadvantage because while he has no choice but to operate within the curfew limitations, the all-inclusive resorts are allowed to operate at all hours, to include staging parties.

“The government needs to find a different way to deal with the spike in COVID-19, like for instance, hand out masks to everyone, and have persons walking the street to enforce the COVID-19 protocols, but to just get up and close down an entire business community after they have already suffered for over nine months, is a very stupid move,” James said.

Matthew Wallace, who operates Matthew’s Restaurant and Bar in the resort town, said the new restrictions will have a negative impact on his business, but he is nonetheless thankful that some of his guests are adapting to the new time.

‘Unorthodox’ TIME

“Six o’clock is normally my dinner time, that is the time when my guests start coming, but the new time of 7 p.m., is unorthodox. I guess now is the time to adjust and adapt where you can, because we are all facing it. I myself have had to cut down to one shift.”

Businessman Richard Wallace, president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, who also operates the Board Walk Resort, told The Gleaner that many small business operators have been expressing unhappiness with the new curfew hours.

“It is going to hurt business, especially the small restaurants, retail outlets and supermarkets,” said Wallace. “It is the business operators who depend on the move-about traffic, especially within the township, who will feel the effects, so yes, it’s a very hard blow with Christmas just 10 days away.”

“Now is the time when a lot of us were hoping to make up for the losses that we have been encountering over the last nine months, and there are a lot of businesses that are hurting, and you know, this is unfortunate that we are at this position right now,” added Wallace.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health and Wellness reported that the parish of Westmoreland had recorded 18 new positive cases of COVID-19, pushing the number of cases in the parish up to 520.

editorial@gleanerjm.com