Wed | Apr 8, 2020

COVID-19 giving Hanover economy a beating – chamber president

Published:Friday | March 20, 2020 | 12:18 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Most business operators in the western parish of Hanover are reportedly experiencing a major slowdown because of the incidence of COVID-19 though supermarkets are seeing a spike in business from panic-buying.

Gare Whittaker, president of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce, cited the social-distancing protocols and mass-gathering ban as triggers of the general downturn in business.

Whittaker said that while nightclubs, bars, and entertainment joints were required by law to close their doors, other establishments cited significantly reduced patronage.

“The overall consensus is that there is an overall decline in the business atmosphere - less taxis on the road, which translates to less spending in all the other associated businesses that people depend on,” the chamber president told The Gleaner.

Domino effect

Whittaker lamented that although service stations remained open, all-inclusives like RIU and Royalton are shuttering doors because of plunging arrivals, and smaller hotels are also set to close as bookings dry up.

“There are no other major lockdowns back this side (in Hanover) as we know that Palladium and other large hotels continue to operate,” the business leader said.

But Whittaker said that he was optimistic that even though job losses would eventually have a domino effect, displacement would be limited to the short or medium term.

“Most people are not necessarily calling it job losses for now. It is just more that they are downscaling based on the current operating environment,” said Whittaker.

However, the chamber president urged Jamaicans to take note of the effects of COVID-19 in China and Europe, warning that the Government’s guidelines on social distancing and hygiene should be observed.

More than 240,000 people have contracted SARS-CoV-2 globally. Ten thousand have died.