'Big public holiday di place scanty'

'Big public holiday di place scanty'

Hellshire Beach empty on National Heroes' Day

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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HELLSHIRE Beach in St Catherine was all but empty on Monday, as the country celebrated National Heroes' Day at home.

Shop owners at the popular chill spot closed their businesses as early as midday, while others didn't bother to open their doors on the public holiday as they expected low patronage.

“Pon di big public holiday di place scanty!” said a fisherman who was seen relaxing with colleagues on the beach.

“First mi ever see Hellshire look so pon a holiday. No selling nuh gwan,” he said.

The man chose not to give his name, but echoed the sentiments of many who spoke with the Jamaica Observer on Monday, that business at Hellshire has been slow and livelihoods have been lost.

In mid-August, Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie ordered the closure of 36 beaches and rivers across the island, as part of the Government's efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On National Heroes' Day, a nationwide curfew started at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, placing tighter restrictions on shop owners who would have expected more business on the public holiday.

Shop owners told the Observer that the beach remained virtually desolate for most of the day.

“People come and swim from in the morning, but nuh spending nuh gwaan,” said business operator, Michael Hylton, who was less critical than others of the Government's COVID-19 restrictions.

“Wi have fi just work with the system, because wi know say the virus a go round,” he said.

But Carlos James, 75, the operator of Totie's One Stop, criticised the ongoing, indefinite closure of beaches, arguing that the Government should reopen these attractions to allow locals to revive their pockets.

“Mr McKenzie need fi open back the beach because a bare famine a gwaan. Today is only about four orders mi get and close the shop. Nobody nuh deh here. People come swim and by 12 o'clock everybody gone.

“Remember say wi live off a holiday. How wi fi sell from 8 o'clock to 3 o'clock?” the elderly man questioned.

“Mi know say di sickness deh here, but dem say wi have fi live with it. All wi do a protect wi self,” said James.

The early start to the curfew also meant one elderly shop owner, who gave his name as Brother Paul had to sleep on the beach.

“Mi live a Kingston, but mi cyah go home now. Tomorrow morning before mi go home,” the elderly man said on Monday.

— Sharlene Hendricks

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