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Two simple steps to normality

Horace Rollins receives the Covid-19 vaccine. (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

There have been some objections to the decision to reimpose restrictions on social distancing in the wake of the sudden increase in coronavirus cases this week.

Obviously, no one wanted to see those restrictions being increased, but the Government was right to do so.

If nothing else has been learnt since the arrival of Covid-19 one year ago, it is that the countries that move quickly and decisively to contain the virus are the countries that have had to the most success in managing it.

Those countries that have moved slowly, or tried to bolster businesses and the economy with short-term measures, have paid the price.

Bermuda has experienced two spikes since the advent of the coronavirus and needs to do all it can to avoid a third. The first took place in March and April last year when the number of active cases peaked at 60, and when there were nine fatalities. The second peaked in December with 253 active cases and three more deaths.

As of Monday, Bermuda had 104 active cases but mercifully no deaths. One person is in hospital.

That there are virtually no hospital cases may suggest to some that this latest outbreak may be less serious than its predecessors. But that ignores the fact that this outbreak has gathered pace disturbingly quickly. It also appears to have mainly affected younger people who are less vulnerable — although the Government has not been very forthcoming with those details.

The risk is that if the virus reaches older or more vulnerable people, some of whom remain unvaccinated, the UK variant which makes up the bulk of cases could take a terrible toll. So Bermuda must get this outbreak under control in order to return to fewer restrictions and, hopefully, none.

This depends not on the Government or on the health professionals but on the whole community. As has been demonstrated yet again, it takes only a few selfish individuals who cannot wait to have a party or not to wear a mask to set the whole community back.

And to anyone who tries to excuse this behaviour by blaming it on “coronavirus fatigue” or “lockdown fatigue”, the only response should be: “Get a grip.” When the Island is just weeks away from getting back to normal, this behaviour is inexcusable and reprehensible.

It would appear that empathy and understanding go only so far. Those who breach the rules need to understand that when they put the lives of others at risk, there are consequences and they need to be held accountable, no matter who they are.

Renée Ming, the national security minister, revealed last Friday that 22 files had been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for alleged curfew violations and breaches of Covid-19 regulations. Assuming that the DPP finds that there are reasonable grounds for prosecution, all of these individuals should be taken to court and if found guilty, they should be dealt with severely. The time for kid gloves is over. Appeals to reason and empathy have failed. Only sentences that act as a deterrent to others will do now.

At the same time, the need to get the population to herd immunity through vaccinations is now pressing. From Monday, anyone above the age of 16 was eligible to register for a vaccination. Thanks to the British Government, Bermuda has a reasonable supply of the vaccine. Now is the time to register and now is the time to get immunised.

According to Kim Wilson, the health minister, Bermuda needs 70 per cent of the population immunised to reach herd immunity. As of yesterday, 20 per cent of the population was fully immunised. Another 12 per cent have had their first dose and are awaiting their second. That is excellent progress, but Bermuda cannot rest until it reaches 70 per cent or more.

Bermuda needs to do only two things to return to near normality. The first is to obey the Covid-19 restrictions. The more closely they are adhered to, the quicker they end. The second is to get vaccinated. The sooner Bermuda gets to 70 per cent, the sooner all restrictions end and Bermuda opens up again.

It is that simple.

Especially for those who work in the tourism industry and related businesses, the past year has been catastrophic. But half-measures will not work. The only way back is to get Bermuda open for business once and for all. And that requires obeying the existing rules and getting immunised. Get registered today.

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Published March 24, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated March 23, 2021 at 5:52 pm)

Two simple steps to normality

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