The Barbados Association of Retailers, Vendors and Entrepreneurs (BARVEN) will be taking no part in calls to have some rural village shops closed for selling fresh local produce.
BARVEN President Allister Alexander confirmed he was receiving complaints about some vendors receiving approval to offer produce for sale, particularly in rural sections of the country.
Some of those complaining have singled out a vending establishment in a particular St. George community that is housed in a small wooden shed. They are arguing that existing COVID-19 protocols, which prohibit vending be applied more consistently.
“Shops in the cities are not allowed to open… so I wanted to know who is so powerful that they could get an exemption in a situation where they were obviously in breach of the law. I am sure somebody would have also brought it to the attention of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit in the same way they drew it to yours and mine, and they were not closed down. So it would have to be that they fall within those exemptions of shops in the rural areas,” Alexander determined.
He added: “Exemptions have been made for shops in rural areas and those could easily fall under that category. It was brought to my attention as well and I was concerned, but when I thought about it, commonsense would tell us that if they made provision for the rural shops, [the establishment] is a shop, even though it is only a vegetable shop.
“As long as things are fairly done, I don’t have time for those who want everyone to be closed down because we are closed down. That is not my thing. BARVEN is about fairness for all, so we are very glad that the population will be able to have full access to food in the rural areas, because shops don’t usually carry vegetables. So if someone were providing vegetables, they would be providing a necessary service,” the BARVEN president added.
Under the existing Emergency Management Directive, all non-essential businesses are prohibited from operating. While supermarkets, minimarts and some village shops are exempted, vending is forbidden.
The Ministry of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship has extended financial assistance to all affected businesses. ([email protected])