Foulkes appeal to businesses, re-engage workers as soon as possible

Foulkes appeal to businesses, re-engage workers as soon as possible
Minister of Labour and Senator Dion Foulkes

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes today pegged the country’s unemployment rate at 30 percent amidst the ongoing COVID-19 closures.

Speaking to reporters outside of Cabinet, Foulkes noted the figure is an estimate as there is currently no statistical analysis from the Department of Statistics over the loss of jobs.

The Bahamas has been in a state of emergency since March 17, after the country recorded its first case of COVID-19 on March 13.

Bahamians were ordered to stay at home and non-essential services that go against physically distancing policies were shuttered.

Companies across the country have laid off employees, including major hotels.

As of today, all islands throughout The Bahamas are now opened for commercial activity. However, the country remains on a 9pm to 5am curfew and weekend lockdowns.

“Today there’s a significant uptake in terms of activity on the island, in terms of businesses opening,” Foulkes said.

“The hotel sector is probably the only major sector that’s not open. We are very hopeful that beginning the latter part of this month, that some of the major hotels will begin to open and the hotel workers can begin to return to work.”

Foulkes advised that of the businesses forced to close their doors due to the country’s emergency orders, Luciano’s Restaurant has been only one to notify of a permanent closure.

“All of the other businesses in the country without exception have indicated that it is a temporary situation and that their employees are temporarily laid off,” he said.

“We would like to encourage the businesses to as soon as they can to engage all of their employees.”

In order to provide relief from lockdown, the government launched a series of unemployment benefits for tourism workers, self-employed workers, and others through the National Insurance Board.

To date, according to Foulkes, some 55,000 Bahamians have applied for the unemployment benefit.

According to data released by the Department of Statistics in January, joblessness nationally increased from 10 percent to 10.7 percent.

The latest Labour Force Survey reflected the period October 28, 2018, through November 4, 2018.