Balancing health and economic needs
A few weeks ago, an announcement was made by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention stating that those who are fully vaccinated would no longer have to wear a mask inside of a store or restaurant.
Essentially, there would be an honour system where those who were not fully immunised would keep their masks on.
Most people rightly thought it way too soon for that type of decision, as many would just blatantly go maskless.
During my travels in a few northeastern states, specifically New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Maryland, about 98 per cent of the population keep their masks on both inside and outside.
Most restaurants and other outlets have Plexiglas-like barriers up to keep customers as “isolated” as possible.
Major retail chains such as Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes allow for persons to go maskless; however, the vast majority of their customers and staff do keep their masks on.
Educating the masses
In visiting multiple states, it is clear that there is a co-ordinated effort to educate persons on both the need for and availability of vaccines.
As you listen to the radio, there are no fewer than three advertisements per hour by well-known local or national personalities.
Generally, they candidly state their own experiences and then urge residents to speak with their medical professionals for advice in relation to getting tested or immunised.
On highways and local roads, there are numerous billboards that indicate locations where persons can get access to vaccines.
Depending on the area one is in, there are informative pop-up adverts while visiting websites or watching YouTube.
Back to work
Bars and restaurants in New York City and Rhode Island have been given the all-clear to fully reopen, with strict health guidelines.
Giant movie theatre chain AMC has opened its doors to those hungry for both popcorn and the big screen. It seems to have a very vigorous cleaning regime with staff who wipe down every seat as soon as patrons exit a theatre.
In Newport, Rhode Island, a town built around catering to high-end tourists, one can see the hustle and bustle resuming.
Souvenir shops, top-shelf eateries, and grocery stores have all seen an uptick in the activity of fully masked patrons.
All of this spells good news for workers who have been underemployed or unemployed for more than one year.
Likewise, in Bermuda and other islands, it is great to see hotels, restaurants and other establishments starting to safely open again.
Rules are rules
Recently, Delta Air Lines announced that all new employees must be immunised.
Major cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines have an ongoing battle with Florida governor Ron DeSantis over their policy that only vaccinated passengers will be allowed to board their ships in that state.
Fortunately for most Americans, tourism is not the mainstay of their economic engine. So the vast majority of their workforce remained employed over the past year — even if that meant working from home.
However, the reality for islands is that they rely on visitors to bring in foreign exchange, so they have had to balance economics with safety.
In Grenada, the Government along with the Grenada Tourism Authority has had to mandate that all workers in the hospitality industry get immunised.
In the British Virgin Islands, a number of resorts have implemented policies that employees must be immunised in order to be around guests.
The Cayman Islands Government is now discussing making it mandatory for all guest workers to become immunised in order to gain or retain their work permits.
Naturally, this has caused public outcry from some quarters of society. However, people realise the harsh economic realities that come with a lack of visitors.
As the world attempts to get back to work, every local or national government and company will be setting legislation and policy in order to have safe working environments for both staff and clients.
Covid-19 is going nowhere, so we all have to adapt our living and working arrangements in order to survive in both health and finance.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at email@example.com