SUB-PAR BUSINESS PRACTICES IN JAMAICA AMID COVID-19

K N F
4 min readApr 5, 2020

Local businesses are now spraying the hands of customers with what they claim to be liquid hand sanitizers. To them, this is the best way to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19. (This novel virus is affecting our lives in more ways than one, and both positively and negatively.)

The approach is short-sighted to say the least.

Not only are the bottles unlabeled (aka below manufacturer standards set by the Bureau), the liquid contained in these bottles are UNKNOWN and the spraying is being done by security guards whose job description has increased to include sanitation. From my understanding of business practices, security and sanitization are two distinct departments. It would make more sense if I were being sprayed by a cleaning man or woman.

What’s even more disconcerting than these oftentimes disrespectful security guards (or perhaps they are only insisting on spraying you like an insect to keep their job), is the fact that you are actually refused entry into these establishments! I mean, the idea of foregoing profit to prevent the virus from entering your store. Why not just shut the whole place down for the next 18 or so months? This type of logic is lost on me.

Check this. On the first day of the curfew (April 1, 2020) I was refused entry by the security guard at the Burger King, New Kingston Branch. While I was annoyed, I probably would’ve been more annoyed by the poor customer service and food quality. Therefore, that particular instance might have only been for the best.

On April 3, 2020, I was also refused entry by the security guard (in plain clothes) at the New Knutsford Pharmacy in New Kingston. All I wanted was one packet of those period pills — the Cetamol for menstruation that’s in that pretty pink packet. Before I could even say, “you don’t watch news? customers should not be forced to be sprayed with these so-called sanitizers”, the man only blurted out a rehearsed retort: “yuh cyah entah if yuh nuh tek di spray”. Meanwhile, there were customers in line at the cash counter breathing down each other’s backs. Again, I found myself in a situation where I was indirectly saved from potentially contracting the virus. Outcome: annoyed and still in pain with no pain relief for the next couple of hours.

What an inhumane act.

As a matter of fact, it was only a few minutes before the encounter at the New Knutsford, that I stopped by the Food Court at John R. Wong. “The guy” at the entrance administering the insecticide was not forceful. I would go as far as to say he was sweet. But there was this other guy who actually threatened that he would not allow me entrance if I ever visited again. That, dear people, was almost scary. His gun was the bottle of unknown liquid hand sanitizer.

I work in the BPO industry and one thing I can say is: my place of employment has deployed a sophisticated system of health procedures that do not include untrained personal spraying its employees like insects. Instead, they have automatic hand sanitizers strategically placed in every corner of the building: next to door entrances, elevators and bathrooms. I might lose my job because of how uncertain our times are, but at least I know I won’t be losing my life due to reckless health practices.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine told me that after being sprayed at the entrance of one of the stores at Sovereign Centre, Liguanea, his hands were burning up! He has eczema.

Here I thought this pandemic would change our sanitization practices for the better but as Jamaican business owners, our lack of sophistication in how we think and act, particularly “business-wise”, is unbecoming. Do better business owners and evolve.

Since we like to outwardly appear “international” without actually conforming to such considerations as their effective business standards, the CDC advises against making our own hand sanitizer. Without using the proper formula, the mixture may have little to no effect on germs on dirty hands and even be extremely harsh as well.

Washing of the hands is a much better preventative method and thus highly recommended. The use of liquid or alcohol based sanitizers is a prescription made by the CDC for healthcare personnel. Similarly, the FDA does not approve the use of home-made liquid hand sanitizers since there are no provisions for “verifiable information on the methods being used to prepare such products and whether they are safe for use on human skin.” View their public health emergency guideline report here.

I know which establishments I will no longer patronize if I make it out alive!

You might be surprised, but these experiences aren’t unique to me. Yaneek Page, local entrepeneur and international business trainer, shared her experience at Devon House and bwoy, the responses are an excellent demonstration of what many Jamaicans think of the issue: some think it’s just “a simple spray” while others think the situation is far more complex than that.

Check out the thread that ensued after Yaneek Page shared her experience:

“Better to have a rash than be dead”!!!

You can follow the rest of the conversation on twitter. This is where I end.

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K N F

Bsc Psychology and Sociology | MPhil Sociology | Experience Researcher