Major players in the local entertainment industry are closing ranks as the Vincentian civil society and business community preemptively react in the wake of the government’s announcement of the first recorded COVID-19 case here.

Mere hours following Health Minister Luke Browne’s late Wednesday evening address, at least one popular bar and lounge announced the cessation of business, with immediate effect. “Please be advised,” the Barcode Pub’s public announcement reads, “due to the present situation where SVG has a case of COVID-19, Barcode Pub will remain closed to the public until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience and [urge you to] always remember to practice good hygiene.”

Meanwhile Chill Spot Restaurant, Bar and Lower Level Lounge owner/manager Lance Oliver told Asbert News Network, “we would only close if the government instruct us to. In the meantime, we would follow all health practices to provide a safe place to chill and enjoy your meal and drinks.”

The promoters behind the highly anticipated March 13th “Cheaters Paradise” event have ramped up preparations to host the customarily sold out event . The crux of their fight against the dreaded flu-like pandemic is, in part, a bevy of hand sanitizer stations at strategic points around the venue, one event spokesperson told ANN.

“The promoters are mindful that the first case of the coronavirus has been confirmed here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and they do take the safety of the patrons very seriously. Though the show will go on, the promtere is urging any person who have flu like symptoms to reconsider coming to the event.

The promoters are committed to providing a quality event but if you do have flu-like symptoms you are asked to kindly postpone your 2020 “Cheaters Paradise” attendance.
“Additionally, hand sanitizers would be made available at the event entrance. So the persons that you meet at the gate would have hand sanitizers for patrons.

There will also be hand sanitizers at the bar and food areas. Moreover the promoters are also ensuring that any one preparing and/or serving food have the highest food safety procedures compliance.”

The event spokesperson also said, “the 4th annual Paradise event is something patrons look forward to and as much as we know you would love to enjoy the show; if you are not feeling well, we really do urge you to sit this one out.”

Meanwhile St. Vincent Cocoa Company informed the general public by way of media release, “that the launching of the Vincentian Chocolate Cocoa Powder scheduled for tomorrow, March 13, 2020 has been postponed. In light of the recent development of the virus COVID-19 and our nation recording its first case, our management and staff after careful deliberations, believe that we must be proactive and act within the best interest of our staff, their families and by extension the general public. We wish to thank the general public for their continued patronage and urge you to take the necessary precautions and stay informed as we aim to combat this virus.

The local Alliance Française has also joined ranks with other entities that are doing what they can to limit the spread of the sometimes fatal coronavirus. Directrice de l’Alliance Françiase Vanessa Demirciyan told Asbert News Network, “We were celebrating 50 years of Alliance Française in SVG and of Francophonie – promotion of the French language and cultures – including the showcase of some Integrer le Français comme Langue Estrangere (IFLE) laureates.” The event was slated for March 21 and would have involved a delegation of Francophiles spanning: the IFLE Caribbean project (headquartered in St. Lucia) which would see 12 islands exchange projects in education and culture, members of the St. Lucian Alliance Française fraternity and representatives from the French Embassy along with IFLE ambassadors out of Trinidad.

One bank of the local banking sector also announced its COVID-19 action plan. “The Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ltd. is committed to providing you with the best possible service during this outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). In the face of this risk, it is important that we take the necessary preemptive measures to protect you and our employees in the event that the situation worsens.

“Accordingly we have installed hand sanitizers in the customer service halls at all of our branches for your use as a safety measure. We encourage you to use them on entering and leaving the halls and even while you wait to complete your business. During this time, we have also engaged our cleaning service providers to ensure that every surface area, with which you may come in contact, is cleaned and sanitized throughout the day.

“We are also coordinating with the relevant organizations to obtain the latest advisory to ensure your continued safety and the continued safety of our employees.” The BOSVG also published several email addresses and landline and mobile phone numbers so that customers’ “critical banking needs can be managed” remotely.

Dr. Jerrol Thompson, former Minister of Telecommunications, Science, Technology and Industry complete with his medical training as a specialist in Allergy, Inmmunology and Infectious Diseases issued a quiet word of caution while speaking exclusively with Asbert News Network. “Producers may find turnout at large gatherings significantly lower than expected.

There is going to be some inevitable loss incurred by some businesses and service providers. Even though we caught this one case very early, the fact is we are now in a pandemic and we have very wide borders. There are still opportunites in spite of the efforts at the air and sea ports for an infected person to enter and in turn infect others.

As a result it is not unusual for large gatherings to be affected.”

Executive Director, of the local Chambers of Industry and Commerce, Anthony Regisford also weighed in on the local reactions which saw some stores selling out of certain commodities well others were forced to institute capacity management strategies to better serve their long lines of customers.
“Firstly, I would ask all businesses to be good corporate citizens. This is a time when we must all work together on one common objective – to contain the spread of COVID-19. All business should be guided by the scientific information disseminated by the experts at the Ministry of Health.

“This of course does not preclude any individual business to make decisions which they think are in their best interest. I can only hope that such decisions are guided by correct information and not simply a panic response.

“So far the Chamber attended an information sharing session with the Ministry of Health officials on Monday 9, tomorrow we will attend a meeting with the Ministry of Trade and Commerce to discuss related matters.

We will also attend a meeting being convened by NEMO.
“The outcomes of these meetings, I am sure, will be communicated to the media. It is important that there is a coordinated national response. This will reduce chaos and hopefully lessen panic.

“This is a developing situation and the meetings scheduled for tomorrow should guide businesses in what the desired response should be.
“A final point – I understand that some businesses are hiking up prices on certain items that are in demand. In my opinion, this is not what being a good corporate citizen is.”

JP.Schwmon.Vincy@Gmail.Com

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