Monday 1 June, 2020

'Corona mash up the work': Fish vendors bemoan lack of Easter sales

Jay, a fish vendor at the Old Harbour Bay Fishing Village, says his business has been hit hard by COVID-19.

Jay, a fish vendor at the Old Harbour Bay Fishing Village, says his business has been hit hard by COVID-19.

At 11am on Wednesday, there were about two dozen people seeking to purchase fish at the Old Harbour Bay Fishing Village in St Catherine.

It was a relatively scanty crowd for the traditional Easter bumper sales season, but welcomed by fish vendor Ryan Williams in the face of the new reality amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

“A today a di best mi si from wah day yah. Nobody nah come buy nuh fish. Nobody nuh want nuh fish. Di place scanty from wah day because people fraid a di Covid,” Williams told Loop News as he negotiated a sale.

Williams and other vendors at the popular fishing village say sales started to fall after the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Jamaica on March 10. The government-imposed restrictions since then to contain the spread of the virus locally have delivered a severe blow to their business.

According to Williams, Wednesday’s minute crowd at the venue was the most customers he has seen at the fishing village since the first case of COVID-19, although he still had to make some consolation with buyers about the price of his fish.

“It bad. A di first mi si di beach suh from weh day and when 2 o’clock come, yuh know how it guh, wi soon gone home. Nobody nah come from wah day. Mi nuh know how it a guh stay pon di weekend,” he said.

Jay, another fish vendor, said: “Right now dem yah (showing a section of his igloo) would a haffi sell fi $600, wi haffi a sell dem out fi any money. Any money we haffi a sell di fish dem fah. One time inna Easter, fish done sell. We done sell and gone home already. Dem time deh a hot bread day, but now di fish nah really move.

“This a di best time, Easter, fi bun and fish. A the best time fi any fish and corona mash up the work. The fish dem stand up,” Jay said.

Jones... Mi all right wid weh did government a duh.

Jennifer Jones, while admitting that her business was hurting, expressed gratitude with the little that she has been able to garner, as well as what the government is doing to contain the spread of the virus.

“If di COVID never deh yah, di sale would a faster. Mi still a earn but the place a lock 2 o’clock suh wi haffi obey di rule. Mi nuh have no problem. People still a come. Them nah bungle up. Dem a come and guh.. Mi all right wid weh did government a duh,” Jones told Loop News.

Other vendors shared similar sentiments to Jones’ about the government restrictions. While they moaned about the reduction in sales, they were generally satisfied with the restrictions, being mindful of the consequences of COVID-19, which has claimed four lives of the 63 individuals on the island who have so far contracted the disease.

In fact, keeping with the government’s social distancing guidelines, the vendors transformed the usually bustling beach Wednesday morning into an igloo maze, with adequate spaces between each of the huge fish containers that occupied all the open areas of the facility.

“Yuh si how far mi deh out inna di sun, is because mi afraid a people. Yuh nuh know who have it. It terrible, terrible,” Williams, who had left the shade of main market structure, said.

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