By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Taxi drivers yesterday said they remain cautious about the tourism reopening and accepting fares from visitors due to the 2.2m COVID-19 infections plaguing The Bahamas' major source market.
Wesley Ferguson, the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union's (BTCU) president, told Tribune Business that drivers were concerned about the spike in cases now occurring across many US states, including Florida and others that generate thousands of annual visitors to this nation.
Disclosing that the sector had resolved its differences with the Road Traffic Department over how the government's COVID-19 emergency powers orders should be interpreted, Mr Ferguson said: "Taxi drivers are ready and we are cautious. We realise that our main source of tourists is the United States, and if you look at the news as early as yesterday morning you would see that the United States is going through their second wave.
"We have to be very cautious as we let these people in. We have to make sure that these people are not sick. If they are then we will also end up in a second wave and it will not be that easy for us to get ourselves out.
"It is all good and nice, and we are happy to be back on the strip, yet by the same token we don't want to be infected. It is a double-sided coin. We need the income but, at the same token, we need to be careful because having income and being sick don't go together."
The prime minister, during his contribution to the 2020-2021 budget debate, said taxi drivers are to ensure all passengers wear masks while cab occupancy is to be limited to enable social distancing.
"Anybody who has been locked down for more than three months is ready to get back to work, there is no doubt about it," added Mr Ferguson. "I have been in a lockdown for the past three months with the taxi union because the taxi union is a tour company or transportation company just like anybody else; just like Leisure Tours and Majestic Tours and all of the rest of them.
"So we were under lockdown and we still have to adhere to the new protocols, but the whole point is we have to get back to work. I'm not sure that there is anybody who is saying that they are not ready to go back to work, unless you have a million dollars stashed somewhere and you don't need any income at this time."
"We also have to adhere to what the new law says about overcrowding taxis and so on and so forth. So we have to be careful because we don't want to end up with these exorbitant fines, but by the same token we have to get back to work because we need the income."