Driving schools at standstill


Driving schools at standstill

By Kediesha Perry
Observer writer

Friday, March 27, 2020

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Business at several driving schools in the Corporate Area are at a standstill due to the Prime Minister's announcement that citizens must maintain a six feet distance from each other.

Alphonso Grennell, principal of Grennell's Driving School, says he fears the worst.

“My business has been closed from March 16 and the plan was to reopen on March 30, but that seems very unlikely because of the close proximity that instructors have to students; it's only about 2.5 feet. If we get masks, then we would be able to provide them for students as well as our usual sanitisation. What I am dreading is a total shut down of the country at the rate things are going,” he told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

Grennell, who operates on Balmoral Avenue in Kingston, has been in the profession for over 20 years. He explains that his business has never hit such an obstacle.

“It's very tough. This is how we earn and if we're not teaching, we can't earn. We are trying to source the masks and if we get them, we will call the students who had appointments to come in,” he added.

Up to Wednesday, Jamaica recorded 26 cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and one death. Several other restrictions have been imposed by Government to slow the spread of the dreaded virus. These involve limiting the number of social gatherings to 10 and instructing students to continue lessons in a virtual mode.

Grennell said the quarantine period has dissuaded others from wanting to take driving lessons.

“The examination depot has stopped issuing licence until after Easter so people will look at that and say it doesn't make sense to pay all that money to learn to drive, and then you can't get a licence yet. However, college and university students have to be home now, doing online classes, nobody has the time to seek lessons,” he added.

Meanwhile, Prescot Buchannan, operator of Key's Driving School at Limelight Plaza, Kingston, added that this is the worst loss his business has ever experienced in its 31 years of operation.

“Invariably, we have lost between 50 and 70 per cent [profit]. We are still in operation, but really, we are only open to facilitate emergencies; like if someone urgently needs to learn to drive,” he told the Observer's Auto.

Buchannan said operations have been reduced to the bare minimum.

“We had a shuttle driver that we sent home for the period. Right now, it's just intermittent work. If an instructor has two students then they will come in and provide the lessons,” he said.

The businessman said temperatures for all students are checked upon arrival. They are also given masks, gloves and sanitiser.

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