The recent revision of the Covid 19 directives saw the country receiving a cruise ship on Monday and auto mart convenience stores along with supermarkets are expected to reopen on Sundays. The entertainment group hard hit by Covid 19 directives has started a strong lobby to be able to restart some level of event promotions. The Haywire Weekend being promoted by a foreign travel travel company on the weekend of 2 July to July 6 in Barbados has given impetus to the entertainer’s lobby.
It is no secret the local economy is service based and significantly dependent on tourism. Raging Covid 19 pandemic or not, at some point- like all countries across the globe- we have to find a way to manage the risk of having to live with Covid 19. The global strategy of choice to mitigate against the rate of Covid 19 infection is to achieve ‘herd immunity’, a situation where about 70% of the population are vaccinated. There are no guarantees as the Seychelles experience has revealed. Although 60% of that country is vaccinated it has been experiencing a rise in Covid 19 infections. Seychelles is also dependent on tourism.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
Reopening the country to increase economic activity is fraught with risk. Daily we observe a minority of persons in the country who carelessly or deliberately violate public health protocols established to curb the spread of the virus. With the virus continuing to mutate to more virulent forms there is a high level of responsibility required by citizens and government to make reopening the country work to locals and visitors. We have made our beds by morphing to a service based economy and have no choice but to lie in it.
We have two significant challenges ahead of us. Ensuring the screening process at ports of entry is fit for purpose and the demand by visitors calling for workers in the hospitality sector to be fully vaccinated. There is also the scenario where vaccinated employees may employers to work in a 100% vaccinated workplace. Already a weakness in the travel protocol has been identified – unvaccinated children under 18 entering Barbados with fully vaccinated parents being allowed to adhere to fully vaccinated guidelines. And there is the challenge of employers ‘forcing’ employees to be vaccinated.
Citizens have rights, employers have rights and there is the dictum that limits the free choice of individuals when it conflicts with the rights of the collective. Some hard decisions will have to be made and the blogmaster is fearful given the unruly mindset prevailing in the country, we do not possess the maturity to navigate this stage of the Covid 19 journey with minimum fallout. In other words the loud voice of political talking heads and egotistical social commentators will grab the opportunity to choke traditional and social media newsfeeds to push narrow interest narratives. The current debate about our social values and public morals is an example.
Those employees who prefer to exercise a personal right not to be vaccinated should be paid severance. Unvaccinated children travelling with fully vaccinated parents should have to observe the quarantine period stipulated for the unvaccinated. In the unprecedented situation we find ourselves these are hard decisions we will have to make.