Dare to dream... weekendSunday, July 18, 2021
It is now clear that the Andrew Holness-led Government is moving towards a relaxation of the COVID-19 protocols which were implemented by it to manage and reduce the spread of this deadly and infectious disease. The latest evidence of this is the approval that was recently given to organisers of Dream Weekend, who are the hosts of a series of parties over a number of days, attracting thousands of patrons.
It cannot be overstated that our entertainment sector generates significant income for many people and, indeed, contributes to the much-needed foreign exchange and tourism product. But, as noted by some, the ideal approach in this pandemic is to strike the perfect balance between balancing lives and livelihoods. Great caution, however, must be exercised in this approach.
It appears that there is now a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases in other countries despite them having fully developed health-care systems and relatively high rates of their population being fully vaccinated. For example, in recent times, in the United States and the Netherlands, COVID-19 cases have risen exponentially, especially with the new Delta variant. In Jamaica, our percentage, in terms of those fully vaccinated, remains at an alarmingly low rate — less than five per cent. By way of a regional comparison, Trinidad's percentage of the population who are fully vaccinated stands at 10.5 per cent, and in Barbados the percentage figure is greater than 25 per cent.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, the Government's policy in Jamaica in the reopening of the entertainment sector at this time is a huge gamble and potentially dangerous. The reality is, whether we choose to accept it or not, most Jamaicans are insouciant to the adherence of any kind of regimented structure in the way of law and order.
The abidance of COVID-19 protocols and regulations are not any exception to this. What is worst is the recent holding of a large entertainment event at which patrons were asked to pay more for being in a vaccinated section of the event, as opposed to paying less to be in the unvaccinated section.
One may well ask, where is the encouragement in this to get individuals vaccinated, and is not such a practice incongruous with the Government's policy on vaccination, which has given authorisation for such events to take place?
This point seemed to have escaped the attention of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, the People's National Party (PNP). Indeed, some may argue that the PNP is giving tacit and unqualified support to the Government's policy on the reopening of the entertainment sector. The argument may be that, with the sudden and multiple resignations within the PNP, punctuated by soliloquies from some of its members, it has provided much comic relief and entertainment, itself. It has taken the meaning of the reopening of the entertainment sector to another level.
It is my fervent wish that the organisers of Dream Weekend will be successful in their endeavours and that they will see to it that all the COVID-19 protocols are observed. Do I dare to dream in respect of the latter wish, or even a viable opposition? Pun intended.
Peter C Champagnie is a Queen's Counsel in Jamaica. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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