BFR recommends hefty fines and two-week closure for non-compliant retailers

BFR recommends hefty fines and two-week closure for non-compliant retailers
Downtown Nassau. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Federation of Retailers (BFR) has recommended that retailers found in breach with its COVID-19 protocols either face a hefty fine or be closed down for two weeks, noting that an entire sector cannot be shut down due to the negligence of a few.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced during a national address on Sunday that the retail sector, including pharmacies, may resume in-store services Monday to Saturday following the protocols prepared by The Bahamas Federation of Retailers and certified by the Ministry of Health.

The BFR noted that “it is critical” that all segments of the retail community are reopened as the country heads into the holiday season, with most relying on the November 1 reopening of tourism for them to open their doors again.

“They can no longer endure the curb-side restrictions. In addition, all retailers need the opportunity to open on Saturdays which forms the bulk of any retail sales,” the BFR noted.

The general safety protocols recommended, which incorporates the COVID safety measures already established by the Ministry of Health, includes mask-wearing; ensuring that hand sanitizer is available throughout the store for customers and employee use at the store entrance(s) and checkouts; social distancing protocols; frequent cleaning and sanitization; as well as encouraging workers to stay home if they are sick.

The BFR has also recommended that for high traffic retailers and those with checkout counters that do not allow adequate distance between the customer and employee,  sneeze guards or other protective measures, as deemed necessary, should be installed.

“Shops with a high volume of traffic should space out customer queues for fitting rooms and at cashiers with floor markers as well as markers outside of the establishment for customers waiting to enter. High volume retailers should also consider placing directional arrows to direct flow of guests. Floor markers will be less relevant for store environments such as boutiques with low traffic.  Plan ahead for the need to contact trace by limiting scope of employee contact through scheduling and limiting workspaces,” the BFR has noted.

As for retailers, who are not in compliance with the rules, the BFR has recommended that they “should face either a hefty fine or be closed down for two weeks.

It stated: “You cannot close down an entire sector for the negligence of the few.

“COVID-19 ambassadors can circulate around various businesses to spot check that protocols are being enforced.”