THE extent of the economic crisis we are facing is beginning to become clear.
Curfew has already been extended to 24 hours to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and the duration of it may be extended for another 30 days by the government. That extension will depend heavily on how our current isolation procedures fare in quelling the spread of the virus.
Regardless of that extension, however, the long-term financial impacts were signaled yesterday by Atlantis extending its own shutdown until May 15.
Atlantis, of course, is in a position where it doesn’t just need local infection rates to stop, but also relies upon the outbreak faltering in the rest of the world from where it draws its tourists. With coronavirus rates in the US still on an upward path, Atlantis is obviously eyeing the likely time period in which people will perhaps start to travel again.
Meanwhile, the Labour Director expects around 15,000 people to register for NIB benefits as a result of the tourism sector shutdown.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognise that with private sector income going down and expenditure on helping people suddenly left out of work going up, our balance sheet is going to take a major hit.
If you’re turning to people for easy solutions to this, there are none. The concerns are everywhere. The head of the Organisation for Responsible Governance also spoke yesterday about the need for balance between fighting the virus and restarting industry. Robert Myers speaks of reaching a “happy medium” though this will be a situation where we might instead have to settle for the least unhappy medium.
We have to get through it. People need to eat. Businesses need to be sustained so that when this has passed, the jobs are there again for workers.
The government is making changes as it goes along – last night changes were made allowing commercial fishermen to sell their product for processing and to wholesalers, and rental car companies can open up to receive returned vehicles or extend contracts, for example. Adjustments have been made too in Freeport industries and at Commonwealth Brewery. This is a sign of the government listening to needs and making adjustments accordingly.
It’s a balancing act. Open up enough to keep society going. Don’t open up so much that it gives the virus a chance to spread.
And as Atlantis has shown, the effects of this aren’t going away any time soon.
We must win the first battle and stem the spread of the virus. Then we can fight the economic battle. But until that fight is won, we are going to need to support one another.
As a Christian country, we often talk about the Bible. The time has truly come to live up to the call to love thy neighbour as thyself.
Three strikes for the Crown
The court acquitted Frank Smith. The Court of Appeal rebuked the Crown’s appeal against that acquittal. And now the Privy Council has rejected the prosecution’s bid to appeal the acquittal. That’s three strikes and you’re out for the Crown.
The wording of the Privy Council could hardly be clearer, saying that the appeal should be refused “because there is no risk that a serious miscarriage of justice has occurred in this case”.
Mr Smith has already begun a case for malicious prosecution, filing a writ in the Supreme Court months ago.
We have written in this column before that questions must be asked over how the case was handled by prosecutors, and those questions extend to the process of appealing to the Privy Council after meeting such an outright rejection.
Did the Crown really think after two court rejections, the case was really strong enough to demand the Privy Council’s intervention?
The PLP obviously feels otherwise – slamming the state for having “wasted millions of dollars” and focusing on Attorney General Carl Bethel, who has picked up another loss on his record.
The courts will of course ultimately decide on any issue regarding Mr Smith’s malicious prosecution claim, but even if it is eventually ruled there is no malice there should be an examination of the process that brought us here.
Mr Bethel has previously replied to calls for his resignation by suggesting he’s going nowhere. If that’s the case, Mr Bethel, then you’ve got some work to do.