Sunday 31 May, 2020

Worried! Fish vendors get new closing times due to COVID-19

Brenda Cox Fish Market vendor, Kathy Doughty.

Brenda Cox Fish Market vendor, Kathy Doughty.

Operating under reduced hours since Barbados moved to Stage 3, fish vendors at the Berinda Cox Fish Market are worried about the impact a national shutdown would have on their business operations, if it comes to that next.

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Some vendors at the Oistins, Christ Church location are questioning the revised hours of operation for fish markets already which are 9 am to 3 pm. In light of the national curfew, which is from 8 pm to 6 am, essential business operations have been granted permission to work between 9 am and 5 pm at the latest. 

"The hours in the market to close is real funny because people come to get their fish when they leave from work [but] now they leaving at 5 pm," remarked Oistins fish vendor, Shontelle Brathwaite. 

Speaking to Loop News from her stall, Brathwaite commented that sales are slow, a stark contrast to the previous weeks leading up to the changed times when the citizens stocked up on food and supplies. 

The fish vendor shared that vendors were "hoping for the best" as several are suffering losses due to the closure of restaurants and food stalls and food vendors. 

"Most of us depend on the restaurants because the restaurants buy fish in bulks," she continued. 

Kathy Doughty, a vendor for 22 years, was also adopting a wait and see approach. 

"We are doing it day to day because tomorrow we could get up and the country shut down. I can’t anticipate how things will go. People are coming in but it is not as busy as it normally is . . . I hope for sales to pick up a little bit but people still got to be mindful and safe. Money is not everything right now because everybody's life is at risk," Doughty told Loop News

Along with Brathwaite, the veteran fish vendor was enforcing the use of physical distancing and cleaning counters and surfaces. Doughty declared she was taking no chances as "life as we know it, is different". 

"I’m wearing gloves, have my hand wash, sanitizers. I’m doing everything differently, life is different now," she commented. 

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy has issued a statement reminding customers visiting fish markets to practice physical distancing when making their purchases. These measures are being taken to protect customers and market staff against contracting COVID-19. 

As of March 31, 2020, Barbados had recorded 34 cases of COVID-19.

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