Act decisively to respond to virus threat
The coronavirus is taking the world by storm, affecting global trade and travel. Bermuda is highly dependent on the cruise industry and airline flights, the two areas of global industry that are affected the most.
It is unlikely these two industries will come to a grinding halt. However, the fears in the general public are such that the whole travel industry will take a severe downturn until confidence returns and travel is seen as safe again.
Even businesses are now cancelling conventions and group meetings, which involve travel. I went to a cinema with about 16 theatres, on what we refer as the “cheap night” and could not figure why there were so few people. It finally occurred to me, people are avoiding huge crowds.
Costco, which is a huge warehouse-type store, was jam-packed with people buying tinned food. Nervousness is a human factor, which for the foreseeable future will increase, and it will have a significant ripple effect on our economy as travel slows down.
Bermudians love to travel, also we have a migrant workforce that invariably must travel. We will need to monitor our borders because Bermuda is a close-knit society where it is very easy to transmit flu-type infectious deceases.
There is no need to cause panic, but there is cause to act decisively to be able to respond as a community for what will inevitably come.
Many of the world's financial institutions have slashed interest rates in anticipation of the slowdown of the economy with a hope to avert a global recession. Borrowing will be easier because there is a need to keep the economy moving notwithstanding the low appetite to invest in a contracting marketplace.
Bermuda must take its lead from the economic trends and continue to invest in infrastructural-type programmes in order to keep the economy from “tanking”. Businesses will need to appreciate there will be few incentives to invest, but it does not mean they should not plan.
It's the time to prepare for the day when the virus will no longer be a threat because that day will come. We may be talking about a year before there is an effective vaccine and a bit longer before there is enough inoculation throughout the world to eradicate the threat globally.
In the meantime, the public should educate themselves about what they need to do to protect themselves and how the community can respond by developing new habits to prevent the spread of the virus.
Things such as washing hands often, not shaking hands, perhaps using the knuckles, which once was developed as a style, but now is actually better and maybe an imperative.