Government must reopen economy now – Opposition Leader
Cole Simons, the Opposition Leader, yesterday called on Government to lift Covid-19 restrictions to bolster the economy.
Mr Simons said the island is at a “fork in the road” and action must be taken immediately to prevent further social and economic harm.
“After a thorough assessment of the ravages of the pandemic, what is left behind is significant economic and social scarring that if not addressed, will continue to deteriorate what is left of Bermuda,” he said.
“Given the positive status of our current Covid statistics, the economy must reopen now.
“Why? Because after more than a year of lockdowns, curfews, restrictions, vaccinations, non-vaccinations, mask wearing and social distancing, as a country we are left with significant social and economic scarring.”
Mr Simons added: “Tomorrow may be too late to reopen Bermuda’s economy. The restrictions must be lifted now as many Bermudians and businesses cannot survive one more day and the wedge that has developed between those who have been vaccinated and those who chose not to, is only widening.”
He said that Government had spent “tens of millions” in economic and social support and efforts to distribute vaccines and curb the spread of the virus had resulted in fewer cases.
Mr Simons said: “We are also fully cognizant that we were waiting to achieve the 70 per cent herd immunity to fully reopen, but this may not happen.
“Those who want to be vaccinated have been vaccinated, and those who prefer not to be vaccinated have made their position very clear and we respect these decisions and move forward together without prejudice.”
Mr Simons also said the pandemic had “stunted education” for children, caused the loss of numerous jobs and increased the national debt.
“No one can argue that we are still feeling the effects of the devastation of our tourism product as the much needed cruise ship industry is staying away from our shores in droves,” he added.
“The cost of healthcare has increased at a time when we can ill-afford increases, restaurants and the wellness industry have also suffered significant damage along with the many Bermudians who have been let go from their positions or replaced since the pandemic began.”
Mr Simons said some industries had thrived during the pandemic, but others have been left on their last legs.
He added: “We must stop and try our best to reduce and eliminate Covid’s economic scarring.
“We must bridge the divides between our vaccinated and non-vaccinated, the employed and unemployed, and Bermuda driven events versus the international events hosted in Bermuda.
“Just as several of Bermuda’s recovering Covid-19 patients suffer long lasting symptoms, the same applies to our economy.”