By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
AFTER losing $96,000 through cancellations in the last two weeks, one Exuma businessman is considering the bright side of the country potentially shutting down over coronavirus concerns.
“I would welcome a shutdown because it’s now cheaper for me to not even go out than to do business,” said Ray Lightbourn, owner of Exuma Water Sports. “I need at least eight customers on the boat just to break even. Why break even and let the boats undergo wear and tear?”
The water sports company is one of many small businesses watching the coronavirus pandemic destroy its projections and force a rethink on how many employees can be maintained on payrolls in the upcoming weeks.
Mr Lightbourn is keeping his business’ doors open despite “600 cancellations” only because of a contract with Sandals Emerald Bay. He said if that resort shuts down, so will his business.
“I really don’t want to fire the employees,” he said, “but to keep them on is a lot of money because it’s a big payroll.”
The Minnis administration is expected to announce an economic response to the coronavirus crisis in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
“Hopefully the government will kick in with NIB and payments,” Mr Lightbourn said. “Or at least drop value added tax temporarily. There is only so long you could keep on paying your staff, for me its maybe another two or three three weeks.”
Like businesses on other islands, many shops in Exuma continued to bustle with activity yesterday as residents bombarded shops and stocked up on needed supplies.
“The hardware store is full, the line to the butcher has never been this long, the grocery store is packed. Only the tourism businesses are declining,” Mr Lightbourn said.
Sandra Ferguson, owner of Sandra Taxi & Tours in New Providence, said she has 80 refunds to deliver and is only offering departure services to customers after having more than 100 cancellations.
“I’m banking on a $10,000-plus loss,” she said.
Meanwhile, the list of countries on lockdown around the world has continued to grow, with Germany, France, Portugal and the Czech Republic severely restricting the movement of its residents.
Yesterday, a source in the Minnis administration suggested this country is not facing any imminent threat of a lockdown, saying the matter would have to be discussed at Cabinet.