So here we go again.
Reports of a new variant and suddenly common sense takes flight giving way to panic, whether it is practical or not.
Omicron is here – well no big surprise there. We were all warned that the virus would evolve, and we were all warned that if we,if we did not drive vaccinations numbers up, then a new strain was inevitable. We all knew this, yet, when it happened, hysteria abounds.
Do we take note of the science (which suggests that while contagious Omicron may be less deadly than Delta)? Have we done a practical assessment of our protocols as they exist, or do we fall into that Third World mould of following everything we see the ‘first world’ boys and girls do, whether it makes sense for us or not?
Already we see some Caribbean leaders push the panic button, flip flopping on protocols that for all intents and purposes remain robust, and sending a message of confusion to travellers at a time when the critical tourism sector is only just trying to catch its breath.
I won’t call names, but in Antigua, which for a long time appeared to be ahead of the game, and handling the game with smart heads, suddenly issued a new travel advisory squashing the previous protocols and sending the hotel sector in a mad rush to do damage control. We understand that hoteliers are already receiving a barrage of questions from guests, and hopefully those questions do not turn into cancellations as I saw one news source there already caution.
Listen, the bare fact is that our reality is not the same reality as someone in the UK, Canada or the US. The fact is that our economic actuality is not the same as these countries, and while they may have a myriad of options available to them – including abrupt lockdowns – they can afford to do so.
For islands in the Caribbean, many of whom depend on tourism as a key economic contributor, we face a different reality. I am not saying that we should be careless, or that we should not be on guard, however we need to make realistic assessments of our circumstances before we take decisions that will impact the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.
Our leaders need to take decisions based on our reality, and not for political expediency just to ‘show de people’ that they are doing something. This is not a performance, this is real life, and the decisions our leaders take must be practical for us first …rather than blindly joining the ‘follow the leader’ game which has become the norm.
And even if we do decide to tighten up some protocols, then let that change be sensible, taking into account the impact it will have.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to go into 2022 having to wonder whether my salary will be cut, or whether I can pay my bills, or worse yet, whether I’m going to be laid off yet again.
If the current protocols work, please, just let them work.