Why Bermudians should be angry
“How can you be sitting there telling me that you care, when every time I look around, the people are suffering in every way, everywhere.”— Bob Marley
We all feel it. There is a high level of fear, anxiety, concern and trepidation in our country. What puzzles me is why Bermudians are not angry, when they have so many reasons to be. Instead, we are complacent while staring at personal and national ruin with a level of resignation. Our leadership seems to have convinced us that no matter how catastrophic everything looks all around us and on the horizon, this is the best Bermuda we can have.
The truth is that our present situation could have and should have been avoided. Had our premier and cabinet made the correct decisions, life would have been so much different today. Allow me to tease out this thought and we can determine if our present leadership has failed time and again when decisive action is required.
By the summer of 2020, Bermuda had Covid-19 under control. The Progressive Labour Party took credit for following the global script. If we remember, flights were grounded and cruise ships were docked; there was no opportunity for the virus to get here once we became Covid-free. However, since then, when Bermuda needed to set out its own plan to open the country and move forward, it has not been going well for us.
Every country had to choose the strategy that would work best for them. Will we lock down or not? To what extent should testing be performed? How long will travellers have to quarantine before being allowed to enter our Covid-free bubble? These are some of the decisions that had to be made by our leadership without a global script.
The decisions to these questions and others have resulted in our country being on lockdown for a third time inside 12 months. Bermudians, businesses, our national economy and confidence in our country is in the worst state in my memory. Even the recent decision to close the island within 48 hours produced long lines and panic buying. We are hopeful that these last-minute social interactions do not show up statistically and prove to be another poor decision by our leadership.
Bermudians should be angry because none of this was necessary. Our country has everything needed to be a jurisdiction where we could have controlled this virus. We should have been boasting to the world that we have little to no Covid transmissions. We should have been on the global map as an oasis of beauty with friendly people and open for investment and visitors. Bermudians should be going to bed at night knowing that our future is safe and our collective interest is in the capable hands of our political leadership.
David Burt and his team seem to have us convinced that having our homes devalued, losing our jobs, businesses closing, high unemployment, shutdowns and poor leadership is the best we can hope for.
Let us review what is going on in some countries around the world for comparison. Wuhan, the place where this all started, is fully open with no masks or social restriction. Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore and Vietnam are among the top jurisdictions for their handling of Covid regarding positive cases compared with deaths. Bermuda, as of this date has had 2,123 cases and 19 deaths.
If Singapore (60,735 cases and 30 deaths) were doing as poorly as Bermuda, they would have 156,330 positive cases and 1,377 deaths. We are isolated like New Zealand and Taiwan, except they have many airports to allow entry and Bermuda has only one. Why are we at Level 4, which advises tourists not to come to Bermuda?
If we look at the Cayman Islands, who are similar to us in size, isolation and population, they have 523 cases and two deaths. I shared my research of Cayman with a Cabinet minister in 2020 and the reasons for their success, to no avail.
In Cayman, they do not socially distance, they do not wear masks, their regulated crowd size is 500 people indoors and 1,000 people outdoors. They had one lockdown in the beginning and have made great decisions to keep their economy open. Why are we on lockdown when other countries are doing so well? Poor leadership and poor decisions have resulted in our country being on the precipice of social and economic ruin.
The decision to open our country without a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travellers, the gold standard, is a primary reason why we are in crisis. Travellers are able to be out in the community after a negative pre-arrival test and a negative arrival test, which could come as soon as 24 hours after leaving the airport. If they test positive on Day 4, 8 or 14, how many people have they been in contact with in the interim? I reject that people socialising are to blame fully when it is politicians that provide the rules that allow people to socialise during those initial 14 days.
The Premier boasts that we have a high number of tests being performed. However, other jurisdictions that are doing much better than us test only people with symptoms. Is this because they know “low level” positive cases do not have Covid, as the Premier recently revealed? People are even asking whether any politicians are benefiting from the number of tests being performed because the number of tests conducted certainly has not stopped us from being in this third wave, which is worse than the other two combined.
Bermuda, let’s face reality. The PLP has provided poor leadership of our country to date. Our constitutional rights and freedoms were suspended for two weeks to flatten the curve and here we are one year later with no end in sight. We gave it enormous powers to solve this dilemma but it has failed. However, it appears it enjoys having this level of control over us while we sit by and quietly watch it fail Bermuda and Bermudians.
This is why our complacency is so dangerous. It concerns me that we keep quiet and allow the PLP to fail us with disastrous, catastrophic results. The PLP has proven that if it is left to its own devices, it will lead us farther down the path of death and economic ruin.
I am sounding the alarm again that Bermudians need to demand the PLP make the best decisions for our future and change direction away from the public health and fiscal cliff. If we remain complacent and continue to bury our heads in the sand, we will inevitably go over the cliff with irreversibly catastrophic consequences for all.
• Vic Ball was a One Bermuda Alliance senator from November 2014 to July 2017, and more recently a candidate in the General Election in Smith's West (Constituency 9)