NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A senior chartered accountant is backing calls for the government to push the current 10pm curfew back at least two hours to aid Bahamian businesses and employees.
Kendrick Christie, K Christie and Co managing partner, said: “I wholeheartedly agree [with] those who call for expansion of the curfew time to either 11pm or 12am.
“The amount of cases we have does not justify such a restrictive curfew time for businesses. There are other, more business-friendly measures we can mandate rather than a 10pm curfew.
“As I have said before, we need to balance the financial losses with the medical risks and right now the financial losses are piling up. The extra hour or hours will be one of the measures that creates a shot in the arm for Bahamian businesses.”
According to Christie, the additional two hours will help businesses earn more revenue and stay afloat in a bad economy.
“If businesses earn more revenue, this is more VAT (value-added tax) and fees for the government. Are we not in a huge deficit or did I miss something?” he asked rhetorically.
Such a move, according to the accountant, will help employees earn more money for themselves and their families.
“This is not to be understated when unemployment is up to 40 percent per some anecdotal observations,” Christie said.
He added: “It will reduce the stress on businesses from being intimidated by well-meaning COVID police and from the fear of not closing or being home by the early curfew time.
“We do not need this hurtful unease for businesses and employees. Do we realize that most businesses begin preparations to close almost from 9.30pm in some instances due to the curfew? This is not good for business.”
According to Christie, one or two hours of additional time would create a multiplier effect.
“Imagine a business for those two expanded hours will need security, cleaners and other services from providers; this enables a host of unrelated businesses to benefit from the extended time,” he continued.
“Curfews, like lockdowns, are a blight on Bahamian businesses when NIB (National Insurance Board) benefits are reduced and people are hurting financially. How can you pay for COVID tests or medical help or school fees or rent if you lose hours every week from your regular working time?
“We can be calm and understand the negative aspects of an early curfew, and encourage other business measures such as social distancing, masks, even mandating drive-thru only for fast food services, and indoor limits rather than a restrictive and business-killing early curfew.
“The economy cannot take much more of this restrictive curfew.”