Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce calls for island’s restrictions to be “immediately revisited”

Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce calls for island’s restrictions to be “immediately revisited”
Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Sands

The closure of restaurants and the weekend lockdowns will cripple small businesses, says chamber president

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce has urged the competent authority to “immediately revisit” the recently announced restrictions for the island, warning that the measures are a major deterrent to tourism and will “cripple” many of the island’s small businesses.

In a letter addressed to the competent authority dated November 9, businessman and Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Sands called for the restrictions being imposed on the island to be revisited.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced the restrictions on Sunday amid rising cases of the coronavirus on the island.

The island is now under a 24-hour weekend curfew and nightly weekday curfew.

Spanish Wells and Harbour Island have been exempted from the increased restrictions.

A 6pm to 5am curfew is now in effect Monday through Friday, while a 24-hour weekend curfew will run from Fridays at 6pm to Mondays at 5am.

All bars and restaurants connected to bars will be closed and all private and social gatherings on the island have been prohibited.

During the weekend curfew, businesses will be prohibited from operating, including pharmacies, restaurants and food stores.

Sands noted that most Eleutheran businesses “have made every effort to comply with the emergency orders”.

“This fact needs to be acknowledged as the majority of businesses have made significant investments to safeguard the public by hiring additional security as well as providing temperature checks and hand sanitizing stations inside their businesses. We have not taken this pandemic light,” Sands noted.

He added: “We stand with the government of The Bahamas in its effort to rid our island of this virus. That being said, we believe we need to be surgical, deliberate and strategic about our approach if we are going to accomplish our goal of creating and maintaining a COVID-free environment while also protecting our economy.”

Sands noted that the island is just entering its peak tourism season, with early indicators showing an increased interest in the island.

“With this in mind we need to ensure that there is a balanced approach so that businesses which have been in desperate need of this economic lift, do not lose out,” Sand noted.

He continued: “To this end, we would like the competent authority to revisit the airlift restriction. Many persons have already booked their holidays and it is distressing for their plans to be interrupted at this stage.

“We have seen throughout this pandemic that guests have been very compliant with the rules and there is no need to deter those who want to visit from coming.

“Additionally, we are gravely concerned about the decision to close restaurants and bars.

“Instead, we would like the competent authority to consider prohibiting the serving of alcohol at restaurants while allowing them to offer both curbside and outdoor dining.”

Sands further argued that the weekend lockdowns will be a “major for those considering visiting the island.”

“Our future recovery will certainly be negatively affected by these lockdowns and we believe we can wage war against COVID without going to this extreme as to discourage visitor arrivals in the short and long term. Every visitor counts. We need this to be immediately revisited,” said Sands.

He added: “As it stands, the business community feels that the shutting down of airlift, the closure of restaurants and the weekend lockdowns will cripple a number of small businesses which remain the backbone of our local economy.”

2 comments

How can Eleuthera have a harsher curfew than Nassau? How can mainland be punished for SW & HI tests but not them? Remove their posituve tests from the mainland totals? How can we be locked down on totals including recovered cases? How can we be locked down with predominstely mild or asymptomatic cases they had to go looking for?

Tourism questions:

How can tourists find dinner if all restaurants have to close/cleaned by 5pm in order for staff to be home for 6pm?

Where are tourists landing on Silver on Sunday this weekend supposed to buy groceries, bottled water, etc if everything is closed but tourists still arriving? Tell them starve & dehydrate for their first 24hrs of vacation?

How can rental car companies meet the tourists on Saturday or Sunday flights with their paid for rental cars if there is lockdown? Tell tourists to walk from NE airport to GH or Windemere island??

How can tourists access their rental properties on the mainland if the property managers cannot leave home to open up house and leave keys? Tell tourists to sleep outside at the airport?

This is a poorly conceived plan for a tourist driven nation. Why not shut bars down if they are the problem? Stop sending essential workers with no negative rapid tests? Do a 7/8pm to 5am curfew every night with no lockdowns? Stop all funerals for 2 weeks?

We are losing all credability as a tourist destination as its not better in the Bahamas if you are not even allowing your paying guests access to groceries, water, cooked food.

we are literally shooting ourselves in the foot. it seems like nothing is ever thought out or any considerations given to the economic impacts.
There are strategic sensible approaches that can be taken like look at bars look at big functions held like at Workers House. use the RBDF to patrol and arrest and close down businesses that are not compliant.
Govt harsh approaches are not thought out with the people and businesses in mind. It is like Gestapo power thrusts. my five cents.

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