Food stalls were closed Thursday at the Oistins Bay Gardens after a single case of COVID-19 there but vendors who ply their trade in the fishing town were vocal in their opposition to how the response to the outbreak has unfolded.
Several workers here are unhappy that the owners of the food stalls closed their businesses on Thursday evening, just before their busiest period of the week, while the major fast food restaurants on the other side of the Oistins main road remained open.
Employees told Barbados TODAY all establishments should have been ordered to shut their doors until it is deemed safe to reopen.
But when contacted on Friday, head of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit Ronald Chapman confirmed that while he was aware of a single COVID-19 case in the Oistins Bay Garden, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has not closed any stores.
Chapman said: “However, contact tracing is ongoing. If they have closed it is based on the exposure of personnel.”
One female employee in Oistins said that while she fully understands the need for the shops to be closed to allow for testing and contact tracing to take place, she is not in agreement with some businesses being allowed to continue their operations.
She said: “In all fairness if you are saying that somebody within Oistins got this thing and this thing supposed to be ever so serious, how serious it could be if one half of the road shut down and the other half opened.
“What sense? If they are saying it is airborne and you can catch it through the air and all kind of things like that, what these educated people really telling we? I don’t think this is fair.
“Fair is fair man, this ain’t making no sense. The big man does always get the better end of the stick and the small man is who does got to pay the price and it is not fair. I understand that [a food establishment in Oistins] had a case already and it only shut down for two others and the small vendors got to get five days of no work because they can’t open for five days.”
The employee who indicated that she was a “very disgruntled person in Barbados right now”, also complained of employers forcing employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine or to pay for a weekly PCR test.
She added: “I aint happy all right now. I am a very disgruntled person in Barbados right now. I know too many people that getting forced to take this vaccine and if they don’t the bosses telling them they may have to leave their jobs, and now this unfairness happening here in Oistins.”
When a Barbados TODAY team passed through the neighbouring Berinda Cox Fish Market, fish vendors also expressed concerns over the closure of the food stalls while other area businesses were allowed to reopen following reports of COVID cases.
The vendors said they were being significantly affected by the closure of the food stalls, declaring that “it is not fair that the poor man is being left to suffer”.
“And we see them had cases in there more than once and the people come and sanitize and the next hour them open back the same day about a whole hour after. About three days in the week them had cases in there and these vendors up in here suffering like me. I hear them shut down Bay Garden for five days,” one vendor said.
“I hope that right now people seeing that we like we really got two Barbados’ and this got people vex. A lot of people not happy with this development right now. One side of the road like a ghost town and the other one lively, and let us be real, it is like a village, everybody in the village does mix,” said another vendor.