By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A prominent realtor yesterday voiced concern that new COVID-19 restrictions could interfere with the planned November 1 end to the 14-day mandatory quarantine that has become a "deal breaker".
George Damianos, Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty’s chief executive, told Tribune Business that the Government barely has enough time to impose new curbs to arrest the virus' New Providence spread before the already-announced tourism re-opening and quarantine end at the beginning of next month.
"The only thing I can hope for is if he does lock us down for two weeks he won't have to move the opening from November 1, and there will still be enough time to do that," he said. "I'm really hoping he's not going to change the November 1 opening. I think it will definitely affect us if they do."
Mr Damianos had previously described the Government's decision to eliminate the mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers as of November 1 as "a game changer" for the Bahamian real estate industry's international clients, as well as tourism, because they could now fly in to visit properties without having to stay in a hotel or other location for a fortnight.
He revealed that the quarantine's existence had already proven a "deal breaker" for one client who had instead opted to purchase at Ocean Reef, Key Largo, instead of The Bahamas due to the inability to inspect potential acquisitions without spending two weeks in isolation.
Mr Damianos, meanwhile, said a total New Providence lockdown would not be "totally devastating" for his firm due to its agents' ability to work remotely, although he reiterated: "I think we would probably squeeze by but we really want to open up the borders by November 1. Opening the borders on November 1 is important to us and the whole country."
Meanwhile, John Christie, HG Christie’s president and managing broker, told this newspaper that a total New Providence lockdown was "a terrible idea from a real estate standpoint". He added: "it just throws a wrench in the works as we're trying to get things going.
"I don't think it's a good idea at all, but from what I understand I think there's been enough kick back against it. We're going to have to be open for a couple of months for people to start trusting again. To have a good 2021 we have to get open now."
Peter Dupuch, founder and president of ERA Dupuch Real Estate, added: "I don't think we can take another lockdown. I don't support it because I don't think it works, and I don't feel the economy can take it. I don't see the sense, and don't think they help."