Covid-19 cases are rising sharply in our neighbour, Brazil, as well as in China, Beijing to be more specific, and, of course, the United States. Trinidad and Tobago has done remarkably well in managing the pandemic. Some countries such as Iran, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and India, that have eased lockdowns because it was felt they had contained Covid and had reduced cases of the virus, have had a surge of new cases since easing restrictions.
The US, which has eased restrictions in many states, even though it has not seen any consistent decrease in new cases, may be considered the worst-hit country in the world. As many as 36 states are seeing increasing cases.
A key issue in managing the pandemic is good governance, communication with the citizens and listening actively to guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Owing to relatively good management of the pandemic in T&T, restrictions were eased.
The world is grappling with a most unusual situation regarding the pandemic, which has claimed more than half a million lives and affected more than ten million people, with no definitive understanding of how the virus is spread but that social distancing seems effective in curtailing its spread. Yet some very irresponsible persons totally ignore this fact.
Undoubtedly, the lockdown has affected people in many different ways but believing one can ease one’s frustration by going to bars goes against good sense. All such persons have relationships with others, be they friends or relatives, yet their selfishness overrides their common sense and sense of comfort that the pandemic is over as far as T&T is concerned. No one wants a second wave because bed space would become a luxury in our various health institutions.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, total easing of restrictions would be most welcome, but those who have congregated in bars without due regard to social distancing must rethink their attitude. The bar owners themselves must enforce social distancing by closing early if it becomes necessary on any particular day. Why are the majority of bars displaying maturity and responsibility, yet some are not?
Not only people but all businesses, small or big, have been affected by the lockdown, so why are some bars citing “we need to make money after the long lockdown”? Unfortunately, the missteps of a few have forced the Government to mandate that bars close at 8 p.m., effectively punishing the majority for the few. The 10 p.m. cut-off for restaurants seems reasonable because diners usually have drinks with their food and social distancing can be enforced.
Lessons learned from managing the pandemic should not go to waste. The pandemic does not just represent a crisis, but a world which has changed. Not only businesses but people also need to rethink their priorities, attitudes and “feel-good” views while going about their daily duties.
No one wants to restrict the quality of interactions or visits to bars, but one must consider others such as family and friends in their decision-making. The longer it takes to contain the pandemic, the longer it will take to remove all restrictions. It seems to escape those of us who cry foul regarding restrictions that the sooner our behaviour changes, the sooner our freedoms and rights will be restored.
The current predicament is temporary, even though there will be a new normal, but our behaviours and attitudes will dictate how “temporary” is temporary. Let us think about those who have lost or have reduced income, the businesses that are closed forever, the workers who have lost their jobs, the health workers who are assiduously working to make well the virus-affected and the health services which all of us will need if afflicted with the virus.
Lift the bar, while being in bars! Demonstrate greater maturity!