THE decision to extend the government’s aid programme for COVID-19 is the right choice.
Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest informed The Tribune last night that the deadline for the expiry of the programme would be extended beyond today.
Let’s be clear, no one wants the programme to be necessary. In the ideal world, COVID-19 would be under control, businesses would be back open, the hotels would be ready for guests and the workforce would be taken back on, no longer in need of government aid because they had salaries in their pockets instead.
We’re not there yet. Despite the hopes that the country would reopen in mid-October, hotel after hotel said they weren’t reopening just yet, including the big resorts that are such huge engines for our economy.
The choice was to let people fall in the gap between the end of the programme and the start of businesses taking people back on – or extending it and bridging that gap. Extending it is the right decision, and we commend the government for accepting the reality of the situation rather than pushing on in hopes that the deadline they set would be met.
Mr Turnquest said so himself, saying: “With the delay in the return of the tourism sector to full production, there is a continued need to provide assistance to our most vulnerable population.”
There will be adjustments to the scheme – those details will emerge shortly, we imagine – and if there are ways to tweak the system to focus the aid on those in need then all the better.
So what do we do next? This bandage covers the wound, but we still need to fix it. The first thing we can do is to bring COVID-19 to a halt right here. We can’t control what is going on in other countries, and our biggest hurdle will remain the high number of cases in the United States, our biggest market. But we can control what we do. The last update to the daily dashboard at the time of writing was Monday’s, which saw 65 new cases in New Providence. That number needs to be back to the twos and threes rather than dozens.
How do we do that? You know the answer by now. As hard as it can be to keep to the course, we must stick to the advice of experts. We need to wear masks, wash hands and keep our distance.
We feel there are still too few tests being done as a percentage of our population and fear that there are too many undiagnosed cases as a result. Tracking down as many cases as possible means we don’t have people unaware they have the virus and spreading it to others unwittingly.
Whatever it takes, we need to reduce that number of COVID-19 cases. That is what will give the tourism industry confidence that it can open again – and allow the government to finally bring its aid programme to an end.
Our culture needs to change
How seriously do we take violence against women?
The question arises – yet again – following the killing of a mother and daughter on Monday. The trauma goes further, with another ten-year-old daughter finding the bodies.
It is utterly tragic, of course. But do we care enough to try to change things?
In her column today, Alicia Wallace spells out the hurdles that women face in our society, on the questions that get asked of women, even as they are the victims, and the excuses given to men for the violence they commit against women.
She points out the acceptance for former MP Leslie Miller, talking about abusing a former girlfriend, and the comments by Miriam Emmanual MP saying there was nothing wrong with being “manhandled”.
Too often we accept such casual violence – and we cannot gasp and hold our heads when a murder takes place if we accept the raised hand in the first place. Wrong is wrong and we need to say so.
So how seriously are we taking this?
In another story in today’s Tribune, you will read of a man who got into an argument with his girlfriend in their bedroom. He got out of bed, grabbed her by the neck and repeatedly punched her. He then got a six-inch knife and stabbed her repeatedly. When she grabbed her phone to call for help, he smashed it on the ground.
What was the disagreement? He couldn’t see the television.
For this, his punishment was to be ordered to attend anger management classes and pay his victim $883.50 for medical costs and the broken phone.
That’s it. Are we taking this seriously? You tell us.