‘How will we survive?’
Small business owners bemoan decline in revenue due to weekend lockdown
As the second weekend of lockdown looms, some small business owners in May Pen, Clarendon are criticising the move by the government, and bemoaning a myriad of losses that they claimed they have suffered.
“This doesn’t feel like prosperity at all, this is poverty,” grumbled aesthetician Monique Reid, owner of Sculpt by Mo Beauty Studio in May Pen, who noted a significant decline in her clientele.
“I do not get clients after nine-to-five work hours anymore; they have to go home. I am missing out on so much,” she lamented.
“How will we as small business owners survive? You are asking us to close our business and stay home without any compensation that helps to feed us and our families, all while our airports, hotels and villas are opened? What have we done? This is more than punishment,” said Reid.
Shericka Lewinson, owner and head chef at Danzi Kitchen, shared that she has had to refund monies paid to her to facilitate catering services for families over the holiday, noting that a bulk of her revenue is usually generated during holiday periods.
“It’s a rough patch now for small entrepreneurs. The curfew has affected me in so many ways. I have to be giving back customers their money. I can’t do any catering for people who are home and people who would just pick up their meals can’t anymore, because they have to be home early. It’s just hard and you have bills to pay,” Lewinson said.
The new measures have only yielded more woes for Christina Tucker, the co-owner of A&C Shipping, based in the central parish. Tucker shared with The Gleaner that the onset of the pandemic over a year ago disrupted her operations, forcing her to close her physical space. She said the curfew measures have now impacted the company’s delivery services.
However, Tony Smatt, president of the May Pen Improvement District, believes the measures are relevant to restore normality.
“While the curfew and lockdown may not be popular with the business and vendor community, but because of the indiscipline and persons not taking this pandemic seriously, I do not believe that the Government had any other choice. The partygoers and persons wearing the mask as a bow tie should understand that they need to adhere to rules and regulations, because most of them are the ones that are spreading the virus,” asserted Smatt.
Smatt is also calling on financial institutions to regulate their mode of operations to prevent gatherings outside their facilities.
“I cannot fathom the sense in allowing five or 10 persons inside at any one time and having 30 or more persons bunched together outside waiting to get inside. This is defeating the purpose. It is time that business establishments that are making a good living in a parish spend some of the profits to assist in fighting the pandemic,” he added.
Seven persons in the parish are to face the court next month for breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act, after disobeying the curfew.
Superintendent Christopher Phillips, who oversees operations in the Clarendon Police Division, said that there has been general compliance with the lockdown measures.