RADHICA DE SILVA
Despite the warning from the Prime Minister to stay at home, scores of people continued to be on the streets of San Fernando yesterday.
As the rains poured, one man was seen sitting on the sidewalk while a steady stream of shoppers exited the Carlton Centre walkway.
Street vendor Sharon Noel said, “I came out the road to make some dumpling and smoked herring.”
Asked whether she appreciated the Prime Minister’s call to stay home, Noel said, “If he feels it is for the best, then it is for the best. We have to do what we have to do.”
Another passerby Alexander Lezama said he went to work at a WASA project site but was told to return home because of rain.
Another woman said she had gone to the doctor to get an X-ray, while a few others said they were on their way to work.
One woman said she had to go to the bank with her father-in-law who was a pensioner.
Good vehicles dropped off items at the retails stores and those which were open seemed to be doing maintenance and stock taking.
Some ran from the media cameras while others walked past unconcerned.
President of the Greater San Fernando Chamber of Industry and Commerce Kiran Singh said most people were following the Public Health regulations.
“Of course there are one or two people who break protocol. Some don’t feel like a champion unless they break the rules and they will face the consequences of that,” he said.
Singh said based on projections an estimated 20 per cent of retail stores in the city will face permanent or temporary closure after this lockdown.
“We believe that we are in for serious financial times and we hope that we can recover from this,” he said. He called for an aggressive vaccination drive.
“The economies that are recovering are those with the aggressive vaccine campaign. Developed countries are hoarding vaccines. We know the government is working to address the shortfall in vaccines,” he said.
He also called on the police to patrol closed businesses.
“We hope our hard working Commissioner and the TTPS will be in full force. The elderly are vulnerable in that they have to stay at home and businesses that are closed become easy targets for criminal elements,” he said.
He noted that the Chamber has advised business owners to retool, restock and conduct maintenance during the lockdown period.
He noted that the IMF’s projection of positive growth for 2021 was impossible to achieve.
“I think if we maintain stability within the economy, that will be a positive sign but we don’t see any positive growth. That is practically impossible to keep this economy going. Based on the fact that we are a petrochemical economy and petrochemical energy prices have been down. We hope as responsible citizens we can tighten our belt but we are already doing so,” he said.
Singh urged citizens to continue to follow all COVID-19 protocols, saying that T&T will sink further in an economic tailspin if the COVID-19 spike continues to climb.