Prakesh Deokaran

Doubles vendor Prakesh Deokaran has operated his trade for the past several years at Mission Road, Freeport. Doubles vendors as a whole are very much affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as their income has been curtailed for the meantime. Photo: Innis Francis

DOUBLES may have been recession-proof but it’s taking a beating from COVID-19. Amar Hosein along with five other vendors who sell under the “I Love Sauce” brand have decided to close their three branches in Warren, Curepe and Ariapita Avenue. Sauce doubles have been around for three generations and this is the first time in the history of their business that they have closed operations.

“This pandemic has impacted us 100 per cent. Things are very bad. We have a big staff and rent to pay. But for the sake of safety we decided to close up shop because our line of work puts us in contact with the public,” said Hosein.

The closure of their business has also impacted the morale of his workers, said Hosein. Earlier Wednesday morning Hosein called one of his workers to give him the news and the worker was upset. Hosein said his sister also has difficulties sleeping at night.

“As for me, I’m trying to keep calm. I have a two-week-old baby boy. If I start to worry and panic then I wouldn’t be able to act properly,” he said. “It’s just so sad. I never imagined that it would have been like this in Trinidad. This is a total disaster.”

Hosein is asking everyone to listen to instructions and do the right thing.

“Sanitise, stay safe and stay at home. If we have more cases of COVID-19 then it will only get worse for this country,” he said.

Another vendor who sells his doubles on Ariapita Avenue said although customers are calling him, he doesn’t want to take the chance to be close to anyone.

“Business is real bad and the way the country is going, I don’t think things will change soon,” he said.

Since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced two weeks ago, Wesley Ramlal of Fats Doubles on Maraval Road has stayed off the job.

“Since doubles vendors have to face the public every day, you don’t know what you might pick up and take home. I don’t want to put my family in danger,” he says.

But staying off the job has already cost him dearly. Ramlal is married with two children and is in the process of building a home. Selling doubles is his only source of income.

“It’s getting more frustrating day after day. But there is nothing much that I can do about it,” he said.

As Kitcharee was speaking to Ramlal, he was preparing to go out and sell half the quantity of doubles he usually sells on a regular day.

“I figure I will do enough to survive day to day,” he said.

Other vendors like Sean of Chatter Box Doubles in Aranguez implemented some measures on his premises like soap and sanitiser to make his customers feel more at ease. He also suspended his dine-in service and limited the number of persons inside his establishment to ten to ensure that his customers keep their social distance. Business is far from what it used to be because people are more afraid to come out, said Sean.

When all non-essential services are barred from midnight tonight, vendors who have tried to keep their businesses running will have no other choice than to stay home.

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