NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Director of Labour John Pinder said yesterday The Bahamas’ employment and economic rebound is pinned on the success of Altantis’ and Baha Mar’s reopening next month and both resorts’ ability to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Atlantis has announced it will reopen on December 10 with a bubble concept.
Baha Mar intends to reopen on December 17.
Both mega-resorts on New Providence have remained closed since the outbreak of the pandemic in mid-March, leaving thousands of workers furloughed.
A reported 3,000 Atlantis workers are expected to return to work as part of the Paradise Island resort’s first phase reopening.
It remains unclear how many workers will return to Baha Mar, as the resort on Cable Beach has said it will assess its demand.
Speaking to Eyewitness News, Pinder said: “If we can’t keep a safe bubble — we have to also go out and consider creating more bubbles where we have regular testing in the environment — and we can’t create and control that type of environment, then we are definitely going to be in a lot of problems.
“I see chaos. We’d have another mass amount of persons back on the unemployment line or extended layoff. Well, the extended layoff will end at the end of the emergency orders, which is one month after the end of the emergency orders. So, we’re hoping everything comes together and we have a successful test run, so as to be able to actually open up more businesses.”
The Bahamas’ tourism reopening occurred on November 1.
Pinder noted the reopening of the mega-resorts has a trickle-down effect on other businesses and workers outside the hotel industry.
“There is a spinoff for persons who work in the hotel industry and other industries because if I am able to make money, I can new shoes, new clothing; I can go out to the restaurant; I can take my kids for some Wendys. But I can’t do that without making money, so that clientele opens back up now.
“…But right now there is no real demand for these types of services because people have no money. Once there is more demand, and people returning to work, then you will get other business opening up and expanding, and they can bring back more people to work.”
“So, definitely the 3,000 people that are already being approached to go back to Atlantis, that means more persons will get back to the workplace and you can almost bet that those 3,000 persons will [mean the resumption] of another 500 to 600 jobs in other business establishments.”
As of April 11,000 people had claimed unemployment benefits.
The government’s unemployment benefits program was reduced in October from $150 per week to $100 per week.
The government provided 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through NIB after the legal limit of 13 weeks of unemployment benefit from NIB had come to an end.
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the government had not ruled out decreasing the weekly unemployment payments to $75 if the pandemic dragged on into the New Year.