Bajans Jettison Social Distancing for Cheek by Jowl
One of the saddest days in the few decades this blogmaster has lived in Barbados was yesterday. For close to five months Barbadians from the village to the heights have viewed on smart TVs and cellphone screens the havoc being wreaked on developed countries. Italy, UK, Canada, France, Japan and the USA are listed as G7 countries with significantly greater resources than Barbados. Despite a superior economic status the healthcare and capacity to apply meaningful logistics by these countries continue to be challenged by COVID 19.
On a related note the blogmaster followed a robust conversation making the rounds in Trinidad this week where Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith posted a video of a crowd outside Republic Bank standing cheek by jowl (thanks to Dr. Lucas for reminding of this old expression). Given the no nonsense approach Gary Griffith has taken to doing his job, there is wide speculation he will use his authority to shutdown businesses not observing established protocols designed to protect the health of the public.
The sights and scenes observed around Barbados yesterday although understandable was disappointing. If we accept the government have made errors, how does one explain the behaviour exhibited by a significant segment of the population BEFORE the decision by government to extend lockdown by not practising social distancing? The colossal ignorance of a few church leaders stating the church should be included as an essential service? Should the government have continued in a business as usual mode? Given the population density and the opportunity for aggressive community spread of COVID 19 infections it behoves the authorities to make decisions quickly in order to blunt the rate of infections in Barbados.
The urge at this time to engage in political opportunism must be set aside. The time for a post mortem of COVID 19 will come and a price paid if the electorate is so minded. If there is an opportunity to improve decision making, we have been told the government has an open door policy. Leaders of political parties should avail themselves of the offer and resist the urge to accrue cheap political points by retreating to social and traditional media with destructive positions. In case the memo was not received, COVID 19 is a pandemic responsible for the over 1.1. million people infected and 50 thousand dead across the globe at recent count. Is there good reason Barbados boast of being a highly literate country? The cheek by jowl behaviour exhibited yesterday by Barbadians outside supermarkets has buried that view.
The expectation by government Barbadians would have committed to a behaviour undergirded by self discipline is where it all went wrong. There is a reason why ‘totalitarian’ regimes have been reported to be doing a better job of combatting COVID 19. An assessment of the so called minibus/ZR culture, our propensity to litter, scant regard for road traffic laws, increasing crime etc etc etc supports the blogmaster’s view government was simplistic by expecting some Barbabaians would self quarantine or observe social distancing in the prevailing stressful climate.
Barbadians have to take pause after yesterday to reflect – assume personal responsibility and if after doing so we are unable to apply good sense to our actions then suffer the consequences.
What are the consequences?
All business owners caught serving the public if there is rowdyism outside the doors, must be told to close with immediate effect for a defined period of time until such time order is established.
If the Police observe same rowdyism, order the business to close for a defined period until such time order is establihed.
All business owners must be responsible for securing and managing crowd traffic to ensure compliance, failing to do so a fine and or a cease and desist order issued.
This is no time to allow ignorance to flourish to endanger the lives of the majority of Barbadians. The time for mollycoddling must come to an end now.
COVID CZAR Richard Carter informed the public yesterday that UWI modelling of the trajectory of the virus projects 100s of deaths if behaviours are not arrested NOW.
Hard ears wunna wont hear, own way wunna gine feel!