2767411
Goods on display outside the US Appliances and Electronics Store on the western Main Road, St James, yesterday.

Just like their counterparts in the capital city, many of the businesses in St James and Carenage have been forced to employ several strategies to stay afloat.

While some owners/operators admit they are seriously considering a permanent closure, others say they have been forced to find creative ways to remain open and keep staff employed.

A drive along the Western Main Road which is normally the busiest street in St James, was evidence of the slow down in economic activity as crowded pavements remained bereft of shoppers and many eat-in restaurants reported drastically dwindling sales.

At a popular roti shop along the Western Main Road, St James – the owners lamented the lack of customers as they said sales had dropped by as much as 75 per cent since the confirmation that T&T had recorded its’ first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 12.

Revealing they had been forced to reduce their operating hours and stagger daily shifts to ensure they can continue to keep employees on, one man who requested his name not be used said, “This is all about survival right now…ours and theirs.”

The male official said they have been abiding by the regulations set out by the Government.

However, he admitted to being uncertain as to how long they would be able to keep persons employed as there was little money coming in.

He said one part-time employee had already been terminated as a result, and with seven others facing a similar outcome – he had begun giving workers two days off per week in a bid to ensure they could all remain in a job.

A few blocks down from the roti shop, employees at US Appliances and Electronics Store said they too had been feeling the effects of reduced sales.

The proprietress said while they continued to fare better than many of the smaller businesses that have had to close within recent weeks, it was still not a time for celebrating.

She explained the arrival of COVID-19 had resulted in shoppers staying away.

At the store which is situated at Clarence Street and Western Main Road, the five employees were assured they would be kept on the payroll.

Meanwhile, this was not the case at a small clothing store which operates along the same stretch.

The lone female operator said like her – many shoppers were now having to choose between buying groceries and splurging on luxury items.

As a result, she had seen sales decline drastically in the last two weeks.

She estimated that it could be down by as much as 80 per cent.

Many of the bars which would often be teeming with persons wanting to grab a few cold ones before heading home, remained tightly shut yesterday.

It was a similar tale in Carenage as small businesses and bars up and down the main road were closed.

At the Carenage Fishing Depot, Desmond Ryan called on the nation to hope and pray for a quick resolution to the current crisis.

He said although sales in the district were down, people were coming out to buy food as they needed to eat.

At Macqueripe Mail Road, officials of the Chaguaramas Development Authority have set up a 24-hour temporary post to ensure no vehicular or pedestrian visitors breach the order to stay away.

When Guardian Media visited around 1.30 pm yesterday, officials said only licensed firearm users were being allowed to access the shooting range while the golf course and safari park remained closed.