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…New Amsterdam hard-hit by Covid, businesses struggling
In a matter of just one year, establishments around the world have been ejected from their status quo and have been scampering to accommodate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to sustain themselves while adapting to “the new norm.”
In the town of New Amsterdam, the brunt of COVID-19 has been mildly oppressive. An ever-humming business centre, with folk regularly gathering at bars and nightclubs at the weekend, or casually traversing the streets for an evening stroll, has now been reduced to a form of desolation.
Even before the pandemic reached local shores, the chorus of vendors plying their trade at the New Amsterdam market, was that “business hard.” In this Covid era, those vendors have had to make major adjustments, since persons continue to limit their time outside. “It’s been extremely rough for we out here,” one vendor told Village Voice News. When you think things been hard before this virus, it gets more hard. We hardly getting by.”
Many residents remain skeptical about going out to conduct business. As always, there are some who blatantly disregard the measures in place. At any rate, vendors deem it lucky to have a handful of customers on a given day. They say the percentage of customers frequenting the market has reduced, though not to a bleak figure. This still, however, accounts for some revenue hurdles, since, according to one female vendor, persons have been without jobs and as a consequence, cannot spend much.
“I know a lot of people who at home right now. They not working and it really hard. So they not working, they not coming to buy things and we not getting to sell the things we got to sell.”
Roadside stalls stocked with popular local delicacies, have also faced almost the same level of decline in business. Supermarkets are almost unfazed by the pandemic, since there is consistent influx between the aisles daily. Large and well-established supermarkets such as J’s, M.Ali and Sons, S. Kassim and Sons, Bob and Sons, and others see lots of customers, since persons come out to stock up on ration.
Meanwhile, there has also been a decline in the number of persons using public transportation. Hire car drivers are feeling the “toughness”, of this decline. The commercial affairs of the “social hotspots” in the township, have been dealt a severe blow. Most restaurants and bars have placed barriers at their entrances, from where they take orders. Others are fully opened, though with strict measures in place.
Persons convene at these locations with family members and loved ones on weekdays and evenings, under new protocols, and are required to wear masks, wash hands, and be seated spaced out. When going out is not possible, delivery services are made convenient around the town. Most bars and restaurants, and even nightclubs now retain an isolated atmosphere. One bar owner said since the virus gripped the nation, and the enforcements in place, there has been a significant downscale in business.
“Never in my many years as a businessman, I have taken this much blows. This is blows more than clothes. Imagine coming out here and barely making money. The funny thing is, I can’t close down, because, let’s say things ride out and get back to some normalcy soon, it would be hard for me to start my business again. I just hope this thing go away so business could bounce back.”
With the vaccine campaign being rolled out across the country, residents have also jumped at the opportunity to take the jab. Vaccine sites are spread out across town, which continue to see a daily overflow of persons. The Mayor and Town Council has meanwhile, has been consistent in admonishing citizens to take all precautions and adhere to all safety regulations.