There was a contradiction at the heart of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ national address yesterday.
On one hand, he is opening the doors of the country to visitors – even those from locations where COVID-19 is still running rampant. On the other, he urged Bahamians not to travel to those locations.
Is it safe for people to come from those hotspots? Open the doors! Is it safe to go to those hotspots? Don’t do it!
Let’s be honest, this is all about the money and the economy. For a tourism destination with casinos for visitors, we are asking people to place their bets and take a gamble, and hoping that the house will win.
Our biggest tourism market is the United States – which racked up another 36,113 cases yesterday. Florida alone had another 9,585 new cases on Saturday, and the state has just short of 100,000 people currently infected with active cases.
So when the Prime Minister warns of travel to these hotspots, saying “If you travel to these areas and go to malls, shops, restaurants and other establishments you might catch the virus”, well, that’s the same places people are coming from to visit us. Sure, they’ll need to have taken a test to show they haven’t got the virus – but they may well catch it between the test date and the flight. Even at the airport, perhaps – with Orlando International Airport having had more than half of the employees who took a test showing positive.
Why are we reopening in the face of that? The PM gives the answer: “We have to reopen to get more Bahamians back to work and to get businesses and the economy back to work.”
In short, we need the money.
So what do we do? We take what we’ve learned these past months and we keep doing it. You know the drill by now. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your physical distance. When someone ignores those precautions, tell them to take a step back, or take a step back yourself. Minimise as much as possible the chances for that virus to make the leap from them to you.
Grocery store staff have been on the frontline through all this, and now hotel staff will be joining them on the frontline. We urge them all to stay as safe as possible – and urge their managers to ensure every measure is taken to help them to stay safe.
Jitney drivers, you too will have to be vigilant and not overcrowd the buses. Another $1.25 won’t help you if you get pulled over for having too full a bus, and it won’t help anyone if a whole bus gets infected.
In the ideal world, our neighbours would have control of the virus before we opened the doors to them. It seems clear this is far from the ideal world.
We are putting our faith in pieces of paper showing a negative test, and staying six feet apart so we don’t end up six feet under.
This is no happy ending to our COVID-19 story. It could all be just beginning.
No room for these monsters
What manner of monster pulled the trigger that left two-year-old Da’Nyla Roberts in hospital?
She was shot as she sat in her grandmother’s arms on her porch.
The gunman raised his weapon and opened fire on a grandmother with a baby in her arms. Who could do that? This is nothing less than evil.
Let there be no place for this kind of monster in The Bahamas. Whoever the gunman is, people know him. Two people were arrested on the scene, but how did the gunman reach the stage where he thought this was acceptable? Who are the people who forgave him the ills that led him to this, that made him think this was the right action?
He should be ashamed, and he should be shamed by those around him. This incident should be a cause of public horror – and perhaps cause some who might follow the gunman down this path to reconsider and try to turn their lives around.
And say a prayer for Da’Nyla. Her aunt says she is expected to survive – but those prayers will be very welcome.