NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) president Darrin Woods said the union is in discussions with Atlantis on the ‘protocols and procedures’ that will govern the resort’s possible mid-June ‘phased’ reopening.
Back in March, the country’s largest private sector employer announced a temporary closure in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Audrey Oswell, Atlantis’ president revealed the resort was targeting June 15 in an update on its website; however, she noted there was no “firm date”.
“Our journey to welcome you back to Paradise is still ongoing,” Oswell said.
“We have adopted new practices, aligned with those recommended by experts from around the world, for cleaning, sanitization, food handling, and physical distancing. Your peace of mind is at the core of every decision we make. We want to ensure the highest health and safety measures are in place to safeguard everyone who passes through our doors.”
She said: “While we don’t have a firm date yet, Atlantis is targeting June 15 for a phased reopening. The exact date is contingent on critical decisions such as lifting travel restrictions to and from The Bahamas.Taking care of our guests is at the center of everything we do.”
Yesterday, Woods told Eyewitness News the union is still engaged in talks with the resort over new protocols and the way forward .
“We have to conclude those discussions on how employees will be affected and how they will interact with guests going forward,” he said. “We are trying to get those discussions out of the way early.”
Woods said: “Until there is a vaccine I think that all industries will be facing similar changes. For us, we want to get an understanding of what some other places are doing so we can have something to look at and determine how we proceed.
“There is a lot that has to be worked out. The safety and health of the employees as well as the guests is paramount.”
Still, Woods noted that there is an immediate concern over the future employment status of workers at the resort unless the government extends unemployment benefits to 26 weeks to prevent companies from having to terminate workers.
“There is a major concern,” Woods continued.
“At the end of the day there is a proposal to the government from the National Tripartite Council to look at an extension to the 13 weeks because of what happens after that. It doesn’t augur well for the employees so they are looking to see how there can be an extension to that.”
Woods said: “We are trying to delay that in the hopes that there will be some sense of normalcy returned to industries across The Bahamas. We are concerned that if we are talking about a phased opening and there is no extension, then what? They both have to operate hand in hand.”