By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Abaco’s Chamber of Commerce president is urging the prime minister to “revisit” a weekend lockdown that “makes no sense” with Dorian-ravaged residents now racing against time to prepare for the new hurricane season.
Ken Hutton told Tribune Business that the government’s move to fully restore all commerce on Abaco was “a great step forward. We’ve basically been open during the week - well, most businesses that are operating were open anyway”,” he added.
However, Abaco and the other Family Islands that have been permitted to re-open their domestic economies are still subject to 9pm to 5am curfews during the week coupled with total lockdowns (except for so-called “essential” services and their workers) at weekends.
“One thing that I would ask the prime minister to take another look at is the lockdown on the weekend,” Mr Hutton added. “A lot of people need that time to work on their own properties. They are working during the week and they need time on the weekend to work on their own properties.
“This is hurricane season, so we do need that additional time. I am just not sure on the reason for the lockdown on the weekend. We will be open all week; it doesn’t really make sense to me. I would just ask the prime minister to revisit that.” Mr Hutton said he is presently drafting a letter to the prime minister on this very issue.
Dr Hubert Minnis, in his national address to the nation on Sunday, confirmed that Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros were able to resume full commercial activity with effect from yesterday as part of “Phase two” in the government’s re-opening strategy.
“To all of the Family Islands that are able to resume commercial activity, weekday curfews and weekend lockdown measures still remain in place, as do physical distancing measures and the requirement to wear masks,” the Prime Minister reminded.
Mr Hutton, in reply, said: “Again, Abaco, because of the [Dorian-related] exemptions we have been given, through the whole period there weren’t a lot of businesses here anyway. The ones that were here were primarily engaged in the construction and reconstruction of the island with the exception of the food stores.
“So it [the exemptions] really hasn’t had that much of an effect. We haven’t had any shoe stores, or clothing stores or restaurants or bars or anything like that. I am happy that the small businesses will now have an opportunity to open, but again it really hasn’t had that much of an effect on Abaco because we were really focused on the rebuilding process anyway.”