Coronavirus: GCCI, Private Sector to assist employees, small businesses

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While not against the proposal for a total lockdown of the city as a result of the new Coronavirus pandemic, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Nicholas Boyer pointed out that employees and small businesses will be greatly affected.

The Private Sector in Guyana plans to work together in an effort to stem the effects of unemployment and the wider economic fallout should the situation with the new coronavirus worsen in the country.

The GCCI and the Private Sector Commission (PSC) are asking persons or organisations to donate food supplies, monetary aid and any other essential items to assist the needy and those who have been laid off from their jobs.

“What’s going on right now is the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce is leading an effort to start to solicit donations and the wider private sector is doing the same.

“We have a number of members who have materials and are also willing to donate cash towards the fight against the spread of COVID19 in Guyana,” Boyer told the News Room Monday.

Boyer said it is important that Guyana learns from other countries battling this pandemic and understand what they did to stem the spread.

Nicholas Boyer, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce (GCCI)

“What they did is basically down to two things –isolation and distancing and widespread testing, we need to improve and increase the amount of testing we are doing,” Boyer said.

As of March 29, Guyana only tested 46 persons with eight confirmed cases.

Boyer said the situation in Guyana remains ‘fluid’ but the private sector is willing to assist the Ministry of Public Health in whatever way they can.

“We look at this as a national effort and we are reaching out to the Ministries of Health and Finance, we will be reaching out to the Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Bank of Guyana Governor because this fight is against two fronts the public health as well as the economic front to ensure persons can afford their daily basic supplies,” Boyer said.

Boyer said the threat of the virus spreading will only prompt public panic and will result in businesses being shut down, however, there is also the fear of looting and robbery during a lockdown but Boyer said they do not anticipate an increase in crime.

“We are expecting the Police Force to increase the number of patrols and to be honest I don’t expect a high amount of crime initially.”

Businesses are also being encouraged to be smart during this time, especially since the Mayor of Georgetown Ubraj Narine announced that he will not implement a curfew or lockdown in the city.

“We need to be aware that this situation is not just two weeks shut down and then we move back as normal, it could be that two weeks complete shutdown to stop the spread of the virus and then you widespread testing to ascertain how many people are affected,” Boyer explained.

“This virus is still going to be with us until you have treatment or a vaccine,” Boyer said.

Boyer also highlighted that the GCCI is using moral persuasion for businesses not to hike their prices at this time.

Persons are being encouraged to adhere to information by the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Public Health to safeguard against this deadly virus.

One of the keys to preventing the spread of the virus is social distancing.

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