The lockdown pop down argument no longer cutting itWednesday, March 17, 2021
By Falwel Solomon
Leaders who have properly planned for and implemented measures to drive the recovery of their economies and the livelihoods of their citizens ravaged by the novel coronavirus pandemic should no longer be resorting to, nor continuing to enforce total lockdowns.
Lockdowns were a means of forced control used to manage the spread of the virus when the pandemic was still new and where there was much uncertainty and fear among populations. In this environment it was understandable. However, as the world marked one year since the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the pandemic, in March 2020, many things have changed.
The fact is that people are much more educated about the novel coronavirus, and now know very clearly what they need to do to control the spread, even if many wilfully flout the protocols meant to protect everyone.
Of course, we have to understand that any virus with such high transmissibility is always going to result in some people getting sick, so the key is to ensure that those people do not end up in hospital or, worse, in intensive care.
In other words, we need to become much more discerning with the figures. We cannot just look at '100 new cases' as an absolute; we need to examine how many of those individuals need emergency care, because that ultimately is what leads to death and what creates the pressure on our health systems.
Effective leaders are those who put in the work that would allow them to find strategies that guide the reopening of industry, hospitality, and very importantly the movement of people or travel. On the other hand, lazy leaders are those who prefer to take the easy way out and continue to maintain blanket lockdowns and forced control measures.
As we are seeing more and more, the consequences of lockdowns are devastating not just for economies, but ultimately people's mental health and the stability of society.
We took a major step in the fight against COVID-19 in late 2020 to early 2021 with the creation and administering of vaccines to combat the virus. We were all aware that the vaccines were coming and expected that proactive governments and leaders would have taken the necessary steps to ensure a proper roll-out.
It is understandable that supply issues would impact this process; however, it is unfortunate where some governments simply did not plan properly to acquire and distribute the vaccines. Those countries are getting left behind.
With greater enlightenment among populations, and now armed with the vaccines, one of the critical areas that needs to be looked at is the resumption of travel. We cannot continue to approach the issue of travel with fear and trepidation. This is even more important in the Caribbean, which is considered the most tourism-dependent region in the world.
What that means is that the livelihoods of everyone — whether they care to admit it or not — is intrinsically linked with travel and tourism. I would think by now that proactive regional leaders would be looking at amend travel protocols to take into account the dynamics of the COVID-19 vaccine being available.
It may be argued that we are still learning about the full efficacy of the vaccine and, while caution is always a good thing, paralysis or the failure to act is something else.
The only way to eliminate the problems we face is to deal with them. We have to make our problems go away.
We have already lost one year because of COVID-19. Not only have we lost lives, we have lost jobs, we have lost income and savings, we have lost the chance to say goodbye to family and friends who have died, we have lost the ability to interact and touch that makes us human. Some people have lost their minds because we have seen an uptick in mental issues. We have lost so much. Are we going to just sit around waiting to lose more? Is our only plan to try and wait out the virus? That's no plan at all.
COVID-19 isn't going anywhere! Once we face that reality, then we will understand that to defeat it, we need to face it. No more hiding with our heads in the sand.
The military teaches us that in every battle, success depends on a proactive mindset. Those who follow history will know that what is described as the greatest disgrace ever dealt to American arms — the War of 1812 when the British eliminated the American forces at Maryland — happened because Secretary of War John Armstrong failed to act and deploy much-needed militia to the area, the result was that Washington, DC, was burnt to the ground.
In the current environment, lockdowns are a type of negative action that can be akin to inaction as we see above, the consequences of which can be dire.
It is time for our leaders to show their mettle. It is time for them to rise up and time for them to lead an informed, smart and united counter-offensive. Those who do will survive. Those who do not; do I need say it?
Falwel Solomon has been writing on the tragedy of COVID-19 and how the pandemic has devastated tourism-dependent Caribbean economies.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login