THE Bahamian people were asked to behave sensibly, to choose to act wisely to limit the spread of coronavirus. Collectively, we failed.
Now there is no more option. The hammer has come down. The curfew is now 24 hours – and we should be thankful for that.
Too many were flouting the restrictions put in place. Too many were heading to the beach, or to play dominoes with friends, or to family brunches or basketball games or get togethers. Every single one of those gatherings gave the opportunity for the virus to spread, to be carried home on skin or clothes, to spread to those who didn’t choose to go out and put themselves at risk. This was selfish behaviour, not just risking the lives of loved ones, but also risking the resilience of the health sector and the health of the doctors and nurses who would have to deal with any consequences.
So now we have a new normal, a normality in which we have strict limits on our movements, a normality in which we have proven that we did not take seriously a threat that, as Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis spelled out last night, has seen up to 800 people a day dying elsewhere in the world. Are you ready to put the lives of 800 Bahamians a day at risk? No? Then it’s time to save those lives – by doing nothing more than staying indoors.
The government needs its resources elsewhere, not chasing people off the streets.
It needs its resources devoted to keeping the emergency services healthy as they have to deal with the prospect of a nightmare scenario should the virus spread.
It needs its resources devoted to ensuring there are enough stocks of ventilators, tests, protection equipment and more for those on the frontline dealing with the coronavirus.
And as we detail in today’s Business section, it needs its resources to deal with situations such as that in Abaco, where the post-Dorian recovery has ground to a halt amid the coronavirus threat.
Foreign organisations that had been on the ground to help have packed up and gone home as this virus has swept the world, leaving recovery efforts unfinished. Labour shortages have increased as workers have returned home. As the head of the chamber of commerce, Ken Hutton, said, suddenly Abaco is having to “take a back seat, if not being pushed out of the car altogether”.
The government will have to pick up the slack where others have had to abandon their posts – and it does not need Bahamians elsewhere taking attention away from the major problems it has to deal with right now.
But there are shoots of hope amid the crisis. One of those places for hope is Abaco – with people having already had to go through crisis conditions.
Mr Hutton said: “Everyone’s just doing what they have to to get through this like they have been doing for seven months.”
Where our brothers and sisters in Abaco have led, so we can follow. We can get through this too.
And when this has passed, Abaco needs workers. Abaco needs construction. Abaco can kickstart businesses that will need money after the virus.
There is hope too in the government signaling that the Ministry of Works will initiate a number of small-scale projects to help businesses.
Dr Minnis himself said that many things have been cancelled because of the coronavirus. However, he said: “Love is not one of them… compassion has not been cancelled. Generosity has not been cancelled. Gratitude has not been cancelled. Hope has not been cancelled.”
He called us “a people of the rising sun”.
Let us all play our part now, Bahamaland, so that we all may see the rising sun tomorrow.