Texas and Belize understand why reopening their economies is criticalThursday, March 04, 2021
Texas, Michigan, Louisiana, and Mississippi in the United States might, arguably, be lifting their mask-wearing requirements prematurely, but their quest to allow businesses to reopen at full capacity is quite understandable.
As we have seen in Jamaica, the preference for severe restrictions in the hope of stopping the novel coronavirus is short-sighted and unproductive, as millions of people lose their jobs; children remain out of school, setting back their education; and most sectors, including sports and entertainment, grind to a halt.
The debate about locking down the economy to await the disappearance of the novel coronavirus pandemic is proving to be unhelpful. No one knows when this will be over and, in any event, the virus might never go completely away.
Opening businesses and schools safely is the imperative that faces Jamaica and the rest of the world.
That is why we have placed our hope on getting the COVID-19 vaccines, as they will help us to achieve this end.
Texas and the other US States are ending their mask mandate, effective March 10, saying the roll-out of vaccinations against COVID-19 has boosted confidence in a return to pre-pandemic life in the US.
“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday. “Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end.”
And to make it clear, they are not ignoring the need for safety. The governor said his decision was to remove all restrictions on businesses in counties without a high number of COVID-19 patients in hospital.
In Jamaica, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton and his team have failed miserably to position Jamaica in a favourable situation where acquisition of vaccines is concerned, preferring to hold on to the false narrative that they were awaiting World Health Organization (WHO) approval of the vaccine.
It is embarrassing to see how other regional countries have surged ahead of Jamaica and have already started to vaccinate their people. They, too, were waiting on the WHO to approve vaccines, but while they waited they set up their derricks.
Indeed, Belize has put itself in a position that it is now telling travellers that the country has waived entry testing requirement to make access easier, if they have proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
The Belizean Government says travellers from America — their biggest tourist market — just need to get the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after being vaccinated.
“…This card includes medical information about the vaccine you received, the date of vaccination, and where you were vaccinated,” the advisory to visitors said.
We have never argued in this space for ignoring safety precautions. What we have said consistently is that the country should put in the hard effort to open our economy while following the necessary protocols.
The Government finds it easier to rely on people to follow instructions, knowing that for a very large segment of our population, their words go in one ear and come out the other instantaneously.
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