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Georgetown Chamber welcomes gradual reopening of businesses

by Samuel Sukhnandan

The headquarters of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

A decision taken by the National COVID-19 Task Force to implement phase three of the reopening plan this weekend has been welcomed by the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).

Nicholas Boyer, president of Chamber, told News Talk Radio 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online on Thursday that while the decision is a step towards reopening the local economy, he urged businesses to follow the protocols and guidelines set out by the Public Health Ministry.

“I want to call on businesses to ensure that they take all the necessary precautions to protect their customers,” Boyer said in response to plans to implement outdoor dining which will now be permitted from 6:00 hrs (6 AM) to 18:00 hrs. (6 PM) starting Saturday, July 18.

The GCCI president says while he is cognisant of the fact that people are still fearful and concerned about the rise in COVID-19 cases here, he noted that members of the business community operating in the country’s capital are pleased with the plan to reopen their businesses.

“I don’t think there will be a lot of people going out, at least not for the initial stages, mostly out of fear. But the reopening will help businesses. I understand the fears that customers might have, but for the employees, it’s a welcome step, because many people want to get back to work,” he added.

At present, all food establishments (including street vendors) are permitted to operate takeout and delivery services from 6:00 hrs (6 AM) to 17:00 hrs (5 PM). Once the new phase of the reopening plan kicks in this weekend, these hours will extend from 6:00 hrs (6 AM) to midnight daily.

On the other hand, clothing, shoes and book stores will also be permitted to resume operations during this new phase.

The GCCI which has a membership of over 300 businesses had complained months ago that these companies, and by extension the economy, are suffering, explaining that it is a challenge to maintain a business during the lockdown which was caused by the coronavirus pandemic.