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'No More Headroom' For Covid Lockdown

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Robert Myers

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A prominent businessman yesterday warned his companies have “no more headroom” to keep staff on payroll if the government imposes another full lockdown, adding: “We’ve spent out goodwill money.”

Robert Myers, chief executive of Caribbean Group Bahamas, told Tribune Business that reimposing more restrictive measures to contain COVID-19’s spread will place many businesses “at risk of failure or closure” given the already-depressed economy.

Acknowledging that the private sector and workers were “paying the price” for a combination of personal irresponsibility and travel regulations that were not tight enough, he said returning to the measures imposed back in April would have a “devastating” impact on the Bahamian economy.

“I just don’t know what the hell to expect any more,” Mr Myers said after the government last week implemented measures to restrict travel in and out of The Bahamas, as well as other restrictions designed to curb COVID-19’s spread. “As the financial markets would tell you, uncertainty is the worst thing you can have in markets and business.

“That’s where we sit. I’m not blaming anybody. These are very uncertain times. You don’t know what’s to happen, but clearly allowing Bahamians to go to Florida and come back without a negative COVID-19 PCR test has proven to be a mistake.

“Now we’re going to pay for it. I don’t know what level we’re going back to - whether it is one, two, three? As long as we can keep some of the economy moving, it’s not good but it’s not terrible.”

Cautioning the Government against a return to the full national lockdown imposed in late March and early April, Mr Myers told Tribune Business: “Anything you do now to business puts them at further risk - risk of failure or closure.

“We don’t have any headroom now. We’ve spent that headroom. The next time round, if they force a closure, we’re going to have to lay-off employees until the situation is resolved. Where we were putting people on half salaries or half pay, and kept that burden, we cannot do that any more. We’ve spent our goodwill money. Next time it’s going to hurt.

“In some cases we took it [the first lockdown] as an opportunity to improve our systems through IT integration. We kept the management on full pay and did that integration in the absence of any distractions. We took all of that downtime, but now that will not be the case. We’re done. We’re going to have to send people home,” he continued.

“The Government has to be mindful of doing things that are going to hamper employment and shut down the local economy that we desperately need. Whatever part of the economic engine we can keep going, we must keep going.”

Mr Myers said the Government’s initial COVID-19 travel protocols, especially allowing Bahamians who had travelled abroad for 72 hours or less to return home without having to produce a negative CIVID-19 PCR test had proven “a recipe for disaster”.

“There’s a massive degree of irresponsibility in that and we’re paying the price for it,” he told Tribune Business. “If you make it difficult, and put the onus on responsibility to make sure they’ve been tested, it puts the responsibility on the individual.

“If you waive that responsibility and allow people to go over willy nilly and come back without testing, it allows irresponsibility to creep in. That’s just my opinion. That 72-hour loophole in the protocols was the problem. If you go over you need to have a negative test before you come back. That’s what will keep the rest of the economy alive.”

Comments

Honestman 2 months ago

We must re-set to zero infections or we are going to be in serious trouble. How are we going to achieve that without another complete lock down? Government unwisely gave the community some rope and we are back to square one (actually we are in a much worse position than where we started from). So again I ask, what is the alternative to another total lock down?

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UN 2 months ago

I don’t understand why any of this has to be my problem. The Lyford Cay set are probably treating this like extended vacation time. I’m sensing some creative intimidation going on (our open secret is now official - keep that slave quiet). I don’t think the daughters of Pindling receive so much disrespect, and I don’t think the gaming brothers and that pastor with the private jet has to wonder how they will pay basic bills, buy food etc. She means more to us than even all the officially famous people out there - we don’t need to be always be around them to know when they’re nervous, annoyed, stressed, etc. We aren't privy to so many deeply personal things.

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Proguing 2 months ago

There are no needs for lockdowns anymore. There are several treatments against the virus that have greatly reduced the death rate. At this point destroying our economy is the worst option to follow.

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Honestman 2 months ago

Are you not keeping up with how this virus is progressing? It's not just about the death rate - many patients are taking months to recover and for many the virus looks to have caused long term health issues. We are not dealing with the flu where most people are ill for two weeks, they recover and they can get on with life as before. This is different. The spectrum of complication is very wide and for many people catching the virus, they can end up being permanently damaged. If this virus develops out of control there will be no economy left and many will die. So if we have to lock down for a few weeks more in order to send this virus into retreat then I am in favour. No tourist income will be lost due to the new quarantine restrictions and so if we are going to have a lock down, let's do it now.

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Dawes 2 months ago

And after a few weeks and it has gone do we stay closed until a vaccine? In which case most of the country will be unemployed and the country will be failed. At some point we will have to live with this virus.

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Honestman 2 months ago

Totally agree but living with it means we have to be able to outsmart it. So far we are collectively not playing a smart game.

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WETHEPEOPLE 2 months ago

Lockdown are not the sollution for a virus thats going nowhere, get over it already! How often do you wish to repeat the same cycle of lockdown, open, surge....lockdown, open surge. Its idiotic to think the outcome will be any different the second time around. There needs to be a sensible balance of economic stability along with safety measures, anything other than that will only sink the already drowning into more debt and peril. Remember the borrower is a slave to the lender.

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truetruebahamian 2 months ago

The world is overpopulated. This is Nature's way of protecting the world - God told us that!

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tribanon 2 months ago

I think you mean it's Bill Gate's and Dr. Fauci's way!

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DWW 2 months ago

whats that definition of insanity again?

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joeblow 2 months ago

REPOST:

.. lockdowns are a stalling tactic nothing more, it is not a cure! The compliant with lockdowns are still vulnerable if exposed to the virus. A good vaccine is the only cure and that is in the distant future.

The only sensible route is antibody testing using a high quality test. At least we can have some idea of who has been exposed and who has not. Those who have been exposed and are healthy can return to work as there is no concrete evidence of a person catching this virus twice. That will allow sectors of the economy to reopen. I said this three months ago, but lets continue to destroy the economy for a virus with a global mortality rate of 4%!! That makes more sense, right Minnis?

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stillwaters 2 months ago

Until we realize that the government cannot really help win this covid battle......only if people, each taking personal responsibility, changing our actions, and doing what is sensible.....only then will we win this battle.....the government is helpless if the people do not comply.

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truetruebahamian 2 months ago

Minnis needs a slap in the face until his lips flap and simultaneously a kick in the backside which will achieve the same result!

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tribanon 2 months ago

And this slap should have the full force and intensity of a LBT double-boob slap in order to keep him knocked down for the final count.

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