The New Today

Commentary

Beware ships bringing gifts

Grenada is fast becoming a little exotic colonial enclave that some foreigners feel they could organise as their own private playground. In which other sovereign country would any group of non-nationals require nationals to stay out of the way when they’re in town?

So, Seaborne and Sea Dream will be among the first cruise vessels to call in Grenada since Covid and according to Tourism Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, ‘locals will be asked to stay away from beaches when they are in use by visitors’. This is the price local people are being asked to pay in order to help revive the cruise industry.

The minister does not say why the visitors want the population to hand over our beaches to them. One could surmise, however, that it is because they want to minimise, if not eliminate, the risk of catching Covid from the locals, even though Grenada has a considerably lower infection rate per head of population than the areas those visitors left to come to Grenada.

Cruise ships provide just the environment that Covid loves. It is safe to say that Grenadians are much more exposed to the danger of catching Covid from our foreign visitors than the other way round. Yet, the local population is not demanding that cruise ship passengers go into quarantine before they are allowed to wander about in our shops, or on our streets and beaches.

In recent times, Grenada has experienced low level civil unrest because non-Africans had the temerity to take liberties with local people and expected to do so with impunity. Now, cruise ship operators have the gall to ask the government to get locals to stay away from our beaches in order to accommodate them.

This is the thin end of the wedge and if Grenadians accede to the minister’s request and stay away from beaches for however many days each week between November and April 2021, anyone would feel it is easy to push us around just by flashing a few dollars under our noses.

The minister should be saying to the cruise organisers that they should make sure all their passengers wear masks while on the island, in order to protect us and themselves, and observe social distancing even on the beaches.

No government should put its citizens’ civil liberties on hold and suspend their right to use their beaches for exercise and to promote health and wellness, simply in order to make foreign nationals feel less vulnerable.

Say a resounding ‘NO” to the minister.

Professor Gus John

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