By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Bahamian businesses were yesterday hailed for “responsible behaviour” in electing to take the “heavy blow” of shutting down for two weeks once staff members test positive for COVID-19.
Jeffrey Beckles, pictured, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) chief executive, told Tribune Business that this nation could not afford to have “two sets of rules” - one for individuals, another for companies - when it came to complying with COVID-19 best practices.
Speaking after several companies confirmed they had closed for two weeks, both for in-depth cleaning of their premises and self-quarantining of staff after co-workers tested positive for COVID-19, Mr Beckles said it was little surprise that the virus was now infecting the Bahamian workplace following the recent surge in cases.
“All things considered, given the rapid spread we’ve seen in recent, I don’t know if it would be fair to not expect COVID-19 not to show up in somebody’s workplace,” he told this newspaper prior to the prime minister’s address last night, during which a two-week return to March’s lockdown was imposed.
“It’s a pretty hefty blow to take to shut down the whole operation, but it’s a progressive step and the right thing to do. If cases show up in the workplace, that’s the most prudent response for business owners to take. It’s not a matter of the new normal; it’s responsible behaviour.
“There’s no point in demanding responsible behaviour from individuals and not from companies,” Mr Beckles added. “We cannot have two sets of rules, one for individuals and one for companies. Everyone has to do the responsible thing and protect the people around them, customers and employees alike.”
The chamber chief spoke out after several Bahamian businesses in recent days confirmed they had been forced to close after employees tested positive for COVID-19. Dowdeswell Street-based Nassau Tile wrote on its Facebook page: “A staff member of Nassau Tile was exposed to COVID-19 and subsequently tested positive.
“We are working with the Ministry of Health and adhering to all protocols, and are closed to the public for a two-week quarantine period. All other staff members have tested negative, and our premises have been professionally sanitised.
“The health and safety of our team and our customers is our highest priority. We will re-open to the public for curbside and delivery service after the quarantine period is over.” That re-opening may be further delayed by the national lockdown imposed by Dr Hubert Minnis last night.
Bliss Wax Boutique was another to confirm its 14-day closure after an employee, who is presently on leave, tested positive for COVID-19. All remaining staff have gone into self-quarantine after which they will be tested for the virus.
“Since our reopening we have followed all Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Ministry of Health guidelines for cleaning, sanitising, the wearing of masks and gloves, and social distancing,” the company said in a statement.
“We each have to remain aware of the risks related to the transmission of this virus. As evidenced by Bliss’ present situation, even when every precaution is taken there can still be unseen variables that produce unfortunate circumstances.”
Dairy Queen Bahamas, too, disclosed on July 31 that an employee currently on sick leave had tested positive for COIVID-19 resulting in the closure of its Mall at Marathon location for a 14-day period.