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Sep 2, 2021

COVID Chronicles: Dining/Entertainment Industry Struggling to Survive

Earlier in the newscast, you heard the story of a petition signed by stakeholders in the dining and entertainment industry. In our last episode of the COVID Chronicles, we highlight the many entrepreneurs and diverse businesses that were birthed out of the pandemic. Tonight, we look at the flip side of things as well-established businesses are struggling to survive.

 

Linford Rosado, Owner, Thirsty Thursday Bar & Grill

“Many of us are in danger of losing everything we’ve worked for Duane. That is where we are. We are at that point where we don’t know tomorrow what will happen. It is a day by day by day situation.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

It’s the reality on the ground for proprietors in the dining and entertainment industry in Belize. Like the tourism industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has shattered their business, and despite making investments to adhere to the COVID-19 regulations so that they can operate, the blanket restrictions are not helping. It’s a frustrating situation for Linford Rosado of Thirsty Thursday because even after his staff got fully vaccinated and ready for safe reopening, curfew was extended. Catastrophically, he ended up having to reduce his staff by fifty percent.

 

Linford Rosado

Linford Rosado

“We operated last year 2020, I think in general about three and a half, four months, I still paid liquor license for a year. This year I had to pay it again – restaurant – but still and the bills just keep coming, the threats keep coming. We are being threatened by social security, by creditors, by banks. There has been absolutely no relief for anybody in this sector. I’ve been threatened to be arrested. They took away my receipt and my certificate with threats to bring a summons. We are all going through hell; every business owner.”

 

Kirk Gillett

Kirk Gillett, Owner, Rustic Corner

“We have lost about eighty percent of our revenue. The restriction that is in place to me is, I’ll be frankly honest, somewhat ridiculous because it creates a lot of extortion from the police department. Our business owners who are stimulating the country by giving employment to the locals, we are getting affected very hard. There are so many things that are creating pressure on business owners that we are failing here right now. A lot of businesses have been closing down. I had to let go half of my staff and it is sad.”

 

That crunch in economic activity and the shuttering of businesses has been reflected in the data at City Hall.

 

Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Belize City Mayor

“We are having the trade license board meeting and that’s the cry of business owners in Belize City. They are mandated by law to pay trade license, but on the other end, the effects of the pandemic is really disrupting their ability to even earn or make their business successful. They have workers, they have employees; they don’t want to lose their business. These people have invested significant resources for years into their business and as a business owner you just cane sit by and wait for the pandemic to go away.”

 

The potentially lucrative entertainment industry, which up until 2020, had seen massive concerts and well-attended dance events, came to a screeching halt. While some artists, including performers and disc jockeys, have now been relegated to eight to five jobs, others have reached rock bottom.

 

Troy “DJ Dalla” Flowers

Troy “DJ Dalla” Flowers, Entertainer

“On a daily basis in terms of artists and DJs reaching out, asking me, “Dalla what’s next? What are we gonna do? What can we do?” The industry is really broken in terms of, I mean, you have DJs and artists selling out their equipment because they don’t have a job, they don’t know what to do. I mean they try to look elsewhere to do other things, but you know this industry, there is a lot of entertainers who only know what they do, so the industry is taking a lick.”

 

One sentiment shared by all stakeholders is that despite the regulations, people are finding creative ways to enjoy their leisure time.  They are asking G.O.B. to let them be part of the process of protecting the public.

 

Troy “DJ Dalla” Flowers

“You want people to get vaccinated, then let’s have incentives. If we don’t have incentives, we won’t have people doing it.”

 

Linford Rosado

“The blanket type resolutions, restrictions are obviously not working. The curfew is obviously not working. The restrictions on liquor sales or restaurant sales, they are not working. We are having community spreads. We need the dialogue. I believe every business person in this country, I think any thinking person will realise that the vaccine is the way to go. We cannot continue to punish those who have done the right thing.”

 

Bernard Wagner

“We have to get vaccinated or else we will continue to suffer. Businesses will continue to fail, residents will lose jobs, people will can’t put food on their table, people will can’t send their kids to school – the city will fail.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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