In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, authorities in Seychelles are closing down more businesses and introducing new restrictions.
Critical and essential services remain operational while the general public is being asked to stay at and work from home.
The latest restrictive measures were first put in place on December 30 after Seychelles started experiencing community transmissions. On January 3, new measures were introduced, following a surge in active cases in the country. These measures are expected to remain in place for the next ten days.
Following an urgent meeting chaired by Seychelles’ president, Wavel Ramkalawan, it was announced that all retail stores, except grocery and hardware stores, are to remain closed. Wholesales of groceries are to be made upon delivery only.
Mobile food vans and takeaways will not be able to serve the public except for the provision of bulk orders for delivery or collection by previous arrangements. Restaurants, except those in hotels and guest houses to serve their resident clients, and airside restaurants at the airport, are also to remain closed.
Talking to SNA, Molly Sidonie, the owner of Bedos – a garment retail shop – said that she has been preparing her workers for a potential closure of the shop since late last year when the first community transmission case was recorded.
“I am someone who puts safety first. I am just praying that we do not go in a long lockdown like last time. At this point with the increasing number of cases and the first death, it is becoming alarming, hence I really wouldn’t want to expose my workers. I think of things this way – if we come to work and your workers end up contracting the virus, I will still end up having to close the shop. It is better that we close down now and stay safe. People’s health comes first,” said Sidonie.
Molly Benjamin owner of Bedos and Zonm Zil boutiques in Victoria. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Roland Payet, the owner of the takeaway joint Roland’s Health Way, said even if his business is unable to welcome customers to its doors, he and his team are thinking about operating on an order only basis as of next week. He is hoping to make deliveries through Manzaii, an online food delivery company in Seychelles.
A makeup artist, Anisa Rose, also had to temporarily close down her business as her “line of work involves being in clients’ face” and hence she “would be the first to get or give any virus.”
“We are waiting for further instructions. I think that now, more than ever, the government needs to help small businesses – we will not survive this if the government doesn’t help. Things are getting more expensive,” said Rose. She added that despite demands coming from clients for her business to go mobile, this “is not a good idea for now.”
Despite the fact that some businesses had to close their doors to the public, there are workers who still need to report to their workplace as the services they provide are considered critical or essential.
This includes the staff of hospitals, medical or health services, service relating to the generation, supply or distribution of electricity, air traffic control, service relating to the supply or distribution of water, fire and rescue services and wireless, telephone, internet, television and cable communication services among others.
A complete list of critical and essential services, as well as additional measures, can be found on the Facebook page of Seychelles’ health ministry.
As of January 4, Praslin, Seychelles’ second-largest island, has recorded its first three community transmitted cases. No case has been recorded on La Digue – the third-most populated island – as of yet. The public is being advised to avoid travelling between islands as much as possible.