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Call me cautious, but the Government has my support

David Burt, the Premier, an ever-present during the pandemic crisis (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

There are times when you cannot win for losing — and when it comes to making difficult decisions, pleasing everyone is out of the question. It has to be even tougher when trying to mobilise an entire community to combat what is essentially a global pandemic, the spread of which is an ever-present, ever-changing challenge.

But that is the position in which the Premier, along with the Minister of Health, the Cabinet and the entire government find themselves.

They are now in Year 2 of this battle. It has been exhausting — for them, for us and for all those healthcare workers and administrators who have been battling in the trenches. A simple thank-you hardly seems sufficient, but thank you.

I cannot say that I have agreed with everything they have done. I voiced concerns in previous columns, but I cannot say that I disagreed when they introduced various measures over past 15 months to try and prevent spread of the virus.

Instead, I embraced them. Not just for myself but for the good of the entire community of which I am a part. I did so, too, because what they have done has never been out of line with the mainstream of medical thought, science and advice.

On the contrary: they appear to have relied on the best available medical advice and acted on the data that was presented for their review and consideration.

I would expect that of my government.

Fatigue, ennui and anger have set in as we reach yet another crossroads. But now is no time to abandon the game plan, not after the recent surge in cases, the rapidly escalation of deaths, and all this in the face of a new and potentially more devastating strain of the virus that is emerging elsewhere in the world.

It could reach our shores as easily as the UK variant. There are no certainties and there are no guarantees. But I expect my government to mitigate against any potential risk.

They urge vaccinations. So do I. I have had mine. Still, I also continue to practise safe social distancing; use hand sanitiser frequently, and wear a mask. Yes, call me cautious.

But I understand and accept that there are those who decline to be vaccinated. It is their right. But it is not their right to defy the law and guidelines set by our democratically elected government for the good of the community.

Protest, yes, if you wish. There is, in addition, the right under the Bermuda Constitution Order to challenge any law on the grounds that it is an unnecessary infringement of your constitutionally protected rights and freedoms. The case for the Government and the community will be that intrusion is warranted on the basis that these laws are reasonably required in the interests of public health and public safety.

As I wrote in an earlier column, this will not be a battle fought on the law alone, but an argument won or lost on the facts, and, in this case, on medical science.

While it is true, as we hear, that most people are law-abiding and follow the rules, it is the minority that is not, and which potentially makes life and death difficult for the rest of us.

There are a couple of things I would have liked to see and hear more of to make the point:

• What have the contact tracers learnt from those many “cases under investigation”? How were they infected? How many ended up in hospital?

• What about those who breached not just curfew but regulations and quarantine? What became of them? Laws are ineffective when they are not enforced and offenders prosecuted.

• How has home quarantining worked out in the past? Numbers, please.

It isn’t easy. I know that. You know that. We all know that. Hindsight will always be 20/20. True, some countries have fared better, but some have done worse, far worse. We learn.

Meanwhile, the Government must stay the course — but not blindly. I fully expect that they and their medical advisers will continue to keep under review, as they must, all measures, and to monitor closely the data that presents on this insidious disease here and elsewhere — and to adjust accordingly.

For this goal, the Government has my support.

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Published May 06, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated May 06, 2021 at 9:15 am)

Call me cautious, but the Government has my support

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