Bahamas showing how to ride and whistle
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
There is a popular feeling in the street that until the coronavirus disappears we reopen the Jamaican economy to our detriment; and this raises the level of fear.
Cynical politicians, with their eyes set on the election, know this better, but they do not want to risk reopening our borders, fearing that the normal man on the street will understand little or nothing about the economy and punish the party.
But leaders must lead. We can do both – stay ahead of the virus and reopen the economy at the same time. We really have no choice. If the economy does not reopen soon, this same man on the street, starving and unable to pay any bills, will turn to the Government.
We note that the Bahamas, which has two more deaths from COVID-19 than Jamaica, has taken an approach and attitude from which we could all learn when we face the difficult decisions that need to be made and made now.
The sister nation of the Caribbean plans to reopen on July 1, 2020, while making it clear that it would not hesitate to quickly reverse this decision if the situation required it.
If we move quickly to Jamaica, we could open on June 1st.
The Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), in an office yesterday, quoted Prime Minister Hubert Minnis as saying that his administration was well advanced in its planning for the start of the reopening of the tourism sector and that it allowed him to travel to and out of the Bahamas. . He said resorts, airports and seaports were finalizing the safety and health protocols that would be needed for a reopening. The guidelines would take into account what was being done in the region and around the world.
These extensive guidelines would be designed to provide reasonable assurance that travel and leisure were generally safe, and any such reopening to commercial-scale traffic would also depend on the continued stabilization of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Bahamas.
Dr. Minnis echoed feelings similar to those we have in this space when he said, “I fully understand the anxiety and frustration of many people in the Bahamas to reopen our economy. But we must act with prudence and good judgment. We must balance the health, economic and social needs of citizens and residents.
Importantly, he noted that the country was already in “phase 1B of the national reopening plan,” but had begun introducing phase 2 components as the country moved completely into the second phase of the plan. As of yesterday, several islands had to resume commercial activity.
Individuals can start applying from tomorrow and, once the trip has been authorized, each traveler must present the COVID-19 Travel 22 authorization card to the corresponding ticket agent. The repatriation of Bahamians from abroad will resume this week.
Two repatriation exercises are scheduled from Fort Lauderdale, USA, to New Providence. Passengers will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test result to a Bahamasair agent before they are allowed to board the aircraft.
It should be noted that the Bahamas is doing all this while recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian last September and is currently preparing for the next hurricane season beginning on June 1st.
Here is a country that means business.