THE doors of Atlantis open again to guests today – and while there may not be a rush to visit right away, the resort has high hopes for the start of next year.
For the rest of us, it’s a sign of success – a success that can also be measured in the low numbers of new confirmed cases each day at present. On Sunday, there was even a day with not one new case.
There’s more good news over at Baha Mar, where 1,800 staff members are being brought back for the December 17 reopening of the Grand Hyatt – about 40 percent of the workforce.
Each of these moments is a stepping stone back to getting our economy functioning again.
With good news, there is bad news too, however. Looking across to the US, today’s COVID-19 death tally was more than 3,000. To put that in context, that’s more deaths in a single day than in the September 11 attacks in 2001. For that, the US launched a global war against terror. What will be the US response to yesterday’s death toll?
How well the US deals with COVID-19 will be a large factor in how quickly we will recover economically here. A new president coming in with seemingly a more determined and coherent plan to tackle the virus is good news for us. Americans are suffering economically too – with many out of work just as Bahamians have been here. They might want to come to visit, but they might not be able to afford to as rent payments pile up with no income to pay them.
So it will be no surprise that the first days of reopening might be slow. For that reason, it is welcome that the government is extending its support programmes for another month. They might need longer still – and we hope they will be ready and willing to do so if people are still out of work waiting to be taken back on.
But today is a hopeful sign. And in this year, we’ll take all the hope we can get.
Douglas Ngumi’s story is heartbreaking. In today’s Tribune, you can read about how he had to live in a car borrowed from a friend, went hungry often, some days having nothing to eat at all, and had to bathe outside.
His most prized possession is something so many of us take for granted – a cell phone, and that was given to him by his lawyers.
Mr Ngumi was badly treated by this nation. He was unlawfully detained for more than six years. He has, at last, won his case – and a payout of $641,000, the most ever awarded for a case of its kind.
A payment is one thing, but we hope The Bahamas can do its best to put things right for Mr Ngumi in other ways. He says he wants to go and visit family in Kenya, but needs to get his documents sorted out first. It would be only fair for this nation to expedite such matters after treating him so badly.
The question that remains is how many others are there like Mr Ngumi. This newspaper has already printed details of seven asylum seekers who are reportedly in detention, unlawfully according to activists.
The Attorney General and the Immigration Minister have denied knowledge of any wrongful treatment of people still in the system – but if there are, shouldn’t they know? Shouldn’t they be determined to find out?
We want to avoid a repeat of Mr Ngumi’s situation, and others like him who have been through this process before. It’s not just a matter of avoiding the payout at the end – it’s about doing what’s right. And that, for a nation that prides itself on Christian values, should be a goal we all share.