Business community cannot afford repeat lockdowns — says Chamber exec.

Business community cannot afford repeat lockdowns — says Chamber exec.
Jeffrey Beckles, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The business community can not afford to be subjected to the undue pressure of repeated lockdowns, a top private sector executive said yesterday, while urging greater personal responsibility in helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeffrey Beckles, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) told Eyewitness News the sudden closures placed considerable strain on businesses.

“Every time we have to go through these lock downs, it places undue pressure on many businesses across the spectrum of sectors. No business is exempted. So, we have to work more consciously toward our objective of having a stronger economy in these challenging times.”

Up to yesterday health officials had confirmed 16 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 10 more being confirmed on Grand Bahama and five in New Providence.

The number of cases now stand at 342.

The recent surge in cases prompted Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis to announce a new curfew and other restrictions last Friday.

Effective today, a curfew will begin from 7pm to 5am.

Minnis said the government anticipates more weekend lockdowns going forward until health officials recommend otherwise.

“The surge in cases is very unfortunate,” Beckles said.

“We want to urge as clearly as we can every Bahamian to comply with the orders in place. Personal responsibility becomes the most important asset we have as a country and people. That is the leading way for us to fight the impact of this pandemic. Each Bahamian can protect the country and economy by wearing masks, practicing and encouraging social distancing, not traveling unless it is an absolute emergency, avoiding large gatherings etc.

“We have proven that once we are disciplined enough we can fight this virus. At the chamber we want to be clear, we cannot afford to keep opening and closing.”

He added: “Our economy cannot afford to remain in this low growth position by constant lockdowns and those lockdowns are going to be impacted by how he behave. COVID is going to be with us for a long time we are told and we need to do the things we need to collectively stop the spread.”

Exuma’s Chamber of Commerce president Pedro Rolle told Eyewitness News that he was not surprised the island has confirmed its first case of the virus.

“I’m not surprised because of all the traffic we have been having over the past few weeks,” Rolle said.

“I’m not shocked but just disappointed. It’s here now. Our only concern is to ensure that all the various protocols are in place to ensure contact tracing.That is critical.”

Rolle added: “My personal view is we may have been living in fools paradise for a little while because the absence of testing can give us the impression that we were ok. I think that it is critical for us is to have more testing, not just on persons exhibiting symptoms.”