By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce’s president has backed the government’s COVID-19 lockdown as critical to “prevent a far worse toll and greater hardship”.
Greg LaRoda said the “difficult” measures put in place by the government would undoubtedly impact the private sector but the alternative was potentially far worse if the novel coronavirus is allowed to spread unchecked throughout The Bahamas.
“The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce supports the difficult measures enacted by Emergency Powers (COVID 19) (No.2) Order 2020, announced by Hubert A. Minnis, and urges all Grand Bahamian businesses to follow all mandates to mitigate the extraordinary threat to the community,” he said in a statement.
“We all have watched, with tremendous sadness and concern, the aggressive progression of COVID-19 and its devastating impacts on lives, and some of the greatest health systems and economies of the developed world.
“We are watching the global pandemic unfold, at alarming rates, with lives lost – including certainly the most vulnerable, but also people of all ages, from all backgrounds and many with no concerning history. Around the world, daily lives – and economies – have come to a screeching halt and, in our small nation, we are no different.”
Mr LaRoda admitted that the 24-hour curfew, and temporary closure of all businesses except those deemed “essential services”, was extreme and will cause disruption, unease and hardship for Grand Bahama-based businesses and citizens alike.
“However, such measures are to prevent a far worse toll and greater hardship in our communities. In Grand Bahama, we are painfully aware of how fragile an economy is after a disaster beyond our control,” he explained, referring to Hurricane Dorian.
Mr LaRoda added that Grand Bahama’s economy was already vulnerable due to the devastation inflicted by Dorian just over six months ago. While “steady progress” has been made, he added that most Grand Bahama-based businesses were still trying to recover from the storm, and disaster readiness – especially for COVID-19 – was not where it needed to be.
“It’s going to be painful for many, but the alternative is too great a risk without doing all we can,” he stressed, acknowledging that a mass COVID-19 outbreak could overwhelm the health system, the social security system and the economy in general.
Mr LaRoda said this will have a much more devastating impact than the present business lockdown, especially if the emergency measures are lifted too soon. He encouraged companies to further develop their disaster preparation plans, evaluate their succession plans, reassign whatever employees they can to new tasks, and research all assistance available during this time to retain staff.
“Use this time to do the planning, training and resourcing supply chains and services we may not always be able to do as we would like to while keeping up with daily operations,” he added.
At its Installation Luncheon last Friday, the chamber launched a six-month post-Dorian survey and is still in the early stages of data collection.
Survey links can be found on the chamber’s social media pages and website, or by following this link: https://www.opinionstage.com/gbchamber/6-months-after-doran-business-re-assessment. Any questions can be emailed to email@example.com or by calling telephone 802-6118.