By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A Chamber of Chamber director yesterday said "crime has spiked considerably" as following the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent shut-down of much of the Bahamian economy.
Tara Morley, who is also the Bahamas Federation of Retailers (BFR) co-president, told Tribune Business: "What has been happening during this time is that crime has spiked considerably. We have noticed that over the past weekend up to today that several businesses, including several of our members, have been broken into.
"It is more than unusual, and it shows a trend that is higher than normal. We have contacted the police, and they are looking into it and have noticed it as well. We just want our members to know, along with any other businesses, to take extra precautions and make sure that you have appropriate security at your premises. If you don't have alarms, make sure you have alarms, or if you don't have security bars, make sure you have security bars."
Ms Morley said several Federation members had also been unnerved further by the publication on social media of the Government's Emergency Powers (COVID-19) No.1 Order, which appeared several hours before it was formally announced by the Prime Minister.
"We haven't been asked to be closed, and we were wondering if we need to close," she said, prior to Dr Hubert Minnis confirming that all businesses - apart from those on the exempted list - must "suspend operations to the general public for 11 days until month's end.
"We saw a pdf document floating around, and some of my members said it was telling them that non-essential businesses were being asked to close down and were wondering if it was true, so we are trying to confirm whether it was true or not.
"We don't need the additional panic. There is enough truth out there to be concerned about. Stop inciting additional panic."
Explaining how her company plans to manage the COVID-19 threat, she said: "Our stores at the Cole's of Nassau have been cleaning our surfaces routinely. We are encouraging customers to use cashless payment options, and are trying to limit the times where a customer has to come into contact with one of our employees.
"We are also asking them to put their own credit or debit cards into the machine and remove it themselves just to even limit the interaction on that level. We have also been putting limits on the amount of shoppers we allow into our store at one time. We have capped the amount of customers to three customers at one time.
"But obviously, with larger stores, they can let more people in at a time. This three customers per time is just for Cole's of Nassau based on our square footage inside of our store, but others are free to measure what they want to or limit how many customers if they want to."
Urging businesses to get "creative" during the COVID-19 "state of emergency", Ms Morley added: "We have been implementing measures where you can shop socially off of our social media websites, where you can order the goods and then you can pick them up from our door once you have the appropriate identification.
"We have ability to take cards over the phone. Just getting creative with this, so that way we can still find a way to support customers who are stuck at home."