A chance for this Jewel of the Atlantic to distinguish itself
If you know me well, you know Bermuda is my favourite place. In 2016, I was in disbelief when I gazed upon the crystal-blue water during my surprisingly short flight from Toronto. I quickly realised I was somewhere truly special. I have returned at least once each year, and roughly four times per year in recent years.
I find an unparalleled beauty on the island and one day wish to call it my home. In March 2020, Toronto was shut down and my frequent-flyer lifestyle was reduced to cold walks around the city, discussing theories about the virus’s origin with close friends. I knew this wouldn't be an enjoyable summer at home, and swore as soon as LF Wade International Airport reopened, I would be on the first flight — to enjoy the sun, sea and the low Covid infection rates Bermuda was reporting at the time.
My plan was to lay low, practise my free-diving and put down my phone to avoid reading the news. Coupled with the unprecedented riots and uncertain atmosphere surrounding the US election, Bermuda would provide me with a safe bubble to escape the madness. And it did just that.
I took my PCR test two days before departure, quarantined until I received word that my airport test was negative and I was granted free access to roam my favourite little rock. I found it frustrating needing to test again every three days, but it was a precaution I respected considering the hysteria I had left behind in Toronto.
I was incredibly impressed with Bermuda's efforts to test at the airport, This wouldn't be introduced in Canada until well into the winter months of 2020 at Toronto Pearson. I even called home to share with my family how clever and efficiently Bermuda was positioned for tourism. What's important to note is this was right in the centre of the pandemic, Yet now as the pandemic's exit appears in sight, restrictions have intensified?
This is where I offer my solution.
Bermuda ordinarily struggles with tourism; most people in my age demographic — born in 1992 — don't even know it exists and are bewildered when I show them the Jewel of the Atlantic on the map. Why then, after nearly two years of economic hardship, would the Government want to make it even more difficult to visit when things have calmed down so considerably from last summer?
In Canada, thousands of Canadians were forced to refuse or ignore our government's orders to stay in hotel quarantine at our own expense; citizens had to accept fines of up to $5,000 for refusing to sleep in hotels with the doors unlocked, which led to the unfortunate sexual assault of a young woman. Canada doesn't feel like a safe haven of freedom and the virtuous little brother of the USA, like it has been painted for so long. It’s frightening and has significantly reduced my confidence in Canada moving forward.
I spent this past winter in South America. On my last week in Colombia, I felt sick; all my symptoms resembled that of a sinus infection. I tested positive for Covid 19. I stayed in my hotel room for a week, slept a lot and fortunately made a full recovery. Now the National Institutes of Health has reported that as a result of my recovery, I get to enjoy one of the wonderful benefits of my God-given body — “lasting immunity”.
“After people recover from infection with a virus, the immune system retains a memory of it. Immune cells and proteins that circulate in the body can recognise and kill the pathogen if it’s encountered again, protecting against disease and reducing illness severity.
This long-term immune protection involves several components. Antibodies — proteins that circulate in the blood — recognise foreign substances like viruses and neutralise them. Different types of T cells help recognise and kill pathogens. B cells make new antibodies when the body needs them.”
If this is so, why aren't survivors of Covid-19 receiving special treatment or “Status” as recovered?
If studies suggest we have natural immunity for up to nine months, why is vaccination required for easy entry without hotel quarantine? The world-class testing measures will catch a case and handle it extremely well, as they did when I visited last summer.
Bermuda can make a name for itself globally for being a welcoming place to the Covid recovered, who prefer not to be vaccinated. This would circulate throughout the internet in communities who value rights, freedoms and liberties highly. Those who oppose the totalitarian direction many Western democratic countries are going may want to settle in Bermuda, move their wealth to the island, or at least visit.
Many people cannot take the vaccine for the risk it poses to their already fragile immune systems; others cannot for religious reasons pertaining to the ingredients inside the jab. Bermuda can be a token of freedom by welcoming the unvaccinated and challenging the dogma that unvaccinated people are of a lower class or a “risk” to society, which to be frank is blatant discrimination.
These harsh restrictions lead one to believe that the Government may be following a script that they in fact didn't create, a script that plain and simply doesn't work for this sunny little oasis in the Atlantic. The quarantine hotels will be soon abandoned in Canada because they didn't work; they even had Covid outbreaks at one of the hotels.
Bermuda should end this measure immediately. Covid-recovered individuals should be welcomed with open arms with the same freedoms as those vaccinated. Bermuda shouldn't waste this opportunity to market itself on the global scale and shine like the true Jewel of the Atlantic that it is.
JONATHAN H. RAKSHA