No-movement days hurting small vendors

September 10, 2021
Essorine Thompson at her roadside stall.
Essorine Thompson at her roadside stall.

At 73 years old, Essorine Thompson is hoping that she can see out her twilight years with relative ease.

However, the street vendor continues to feel the pinch of the novel coronavirus, which has forced the Government to implement several no-movement days to contain its spread.

That decision has been cramping Thompson's hustle, which she described as vital to her own survival. A mother of four, the senior citizen, who has diabetes and arthritis, said she could no longer afford to go for days without selling from her makeshift stall outside of her gate.

"Di two likkle day dem weh wi get fi do everything is not really working out, especially right here, so weh di violence a gwan. Hunger, crime and COVID a kill wi off!" said Thompson, who resides in Spoilers, a section of Central Kingston. For her and other small business operators, even a day with no movement is simply not feasible.

"How it affect me now is that mi cyah get fi put out mi likkle stall and sell one and two things, and a it mi rely pon mostly. Me and mi husband Roy live together and sometimes mi big daughter would come and go. She no have it like that either and is not all the time she provide food. So di no movements mek it hard fi me cause mi cyah go long without eating something," Thompson stressed.

Diabetes and arthritis

Thompson, who said she has been keeping abreast of the increasing number of COVID infections, is open to vaccination, although she has a few reservations.

"Mi wah go tek di vaccine but mi don't know weh fi do cause tru mi body complicated wid di diabetes and arthritis. But when mi see how the virus a gwan, mi wah tek it fi ensure say mi live longer," she said. Market vendor Vert Martin, 44, travels in and around Allman Town, also in Kingston, with his handcart selling produce. He said he is also facing hard times due to the no-movement days.

"Mi never see nutten like this yet, it rough but yuh affi work wid it. Yuh cyah violate the protocols or else that ago cost yuh more money a court. Yuh affi just gwan work wid it until yuh see better," said Martin. "Everything rotten pon mi, mi affi bun it up. Mi lose over $15,000 last week and mi a brace miself fi lose more this week again."

Philanthropist Keisha Hayle has urged the Government to find a way to ease the burden on the poor.

"I can't drive in peace and people are coming to my home, and because of the squeeze in society most old people are not being taken care of. They are out on the streets looking for something to eat and the children too. I get the calls, I see the plight and I know what is going on. It is not three meals a day eating again, it's one. And one meal a day is not substantial," she said. Hayle implored the Government to help ease "the plight of the hungry belly who live to hustle every day for their daily gains".

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