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A dangerously discriminatory approach

Michael Green is a writer and communications consultant based in Smith’s Parish

The Government’s plan to force yellow wristbands on arriving travellers will invite discrimination without preventing the spread of Covid-19. Bermuda has long grappled with prejudice, and we should not create new forms of intolerance in a misguided effort to stop the virus.

The most glaring problem with this proposal is that travellers are allowed back into the community after receiving negative tests on Day 8, but they will be forced to wear a wristband until after their Day 14 test.

It is unclear how this will do anything to prevent the spread of Covid-19. People who want to break the law by seeing their friends likely will still find ways to do so. Meanwhile, at least some travellers who follow the rules will be treated as lepers, endure dirty looks at grocery stores and be refused service, despite doing everything right and not having the virus.

The proposal also ignores that Covid-19 already is on the island. Earlier this week, the Government announced 24 new cases, yet only one case arrived from overseas. The real viral threat is not arriving by plane; it is circulating among us. If they were to make unbiased policies based on this medical data, our leaders instead would require all island residents to wear yellow wristbands so that arriving travellers would know whom to avoid.

We all know that will never happen, and it should not. Whether it is yellow stars, scarlet letters or yellow wristbands, it is wrong for any government to devise a system that discriminates and brands people as outcasts, especially when it will not even help in an emergency.

The only good news for arriving travellers is that the weather is growing colder, which will allow the hiding of wristbands under sleeves to avoid suspicion. Of course, this obvious and reasonable response will negate the entire point of the Government’s plan.

Our leaders have done well for the most part in dealing with this impossible crisis. They opened the airport this summer and managed to go more than four months without measurable community transmission, and they deserve credit for making this happen. Given the recent uptick in cases, it is understandable that the Government is feeling pressure to do something, but it should not adopt divisive and ineffective policies purely to appease a frightened public.

Michael Green is a writer and communications consultant based in Smith’s Parish

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Published December 10, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 09, 2020 at 2:27 pm)

A dangerously discriminatory approach

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