Was the shutdown really worth it?

Letters to the Editor

Was the shutdown really worth it?

Friday, May 29, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Was it really worth it? The partial shutdown of the Jamaican economy due to the novel coronavirus pandemic?

Was it really worth the tens of thousands of jobs lost, especially in the tourism industry, and the negative impact to the economy, affecting hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their livelihoods?

These are most difficult and controversial questions to ponder for which I won't claim to have the right answer.

I will state, however, that prudence — or whatever makes good sense — should take precedence or get preference over sentiments. I deem as prudence any and all efforts directed towards the protection, preservation, and prolongation of life. And, given the choice, I would prefer to go broke than die, because one can 'wheel and come again'.

Many of the measures imposed by the Government to limit the spread of COVID-19 came with a lot of inconvenience and pain. And I do empathise and can sympathise with the hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans who have been hit hard by these restrictions.

There is no doubt there were missteps, mistakes, and blunders as we navigated into uncharted waters. But we have done fairly well so far, comparative to what has happened in countries like USA, Italy, and Britain, which are far more resourced. The potential of COVID-19 to overwhelm remains; hence, no need for complacency.

The shutdown of the tourism sector by Government's intervention was in accordance with the effects of a global downward trend in commercial flights and cruise lines. The undeniable reality is that without restrictions being imposed to limit the spread of the SARS CoV-2 virus, the uncontrolled community spread would have still resulted in an unavoidable and unregulated economic shutdown. This is because no one is immune in every sense of the word and, given its high mortality, we could have had thousands of deaths, including public and private sector workers, managers, and business owners.

The disruption from workers getting infected — even with mild form of the disease and off from work at least two weeks, or the rapid spread among workplaces like the Alorica call centre case — should be more than sufficient evidence that without the imposed restrictions we would have had an inevitable chaotic shutdown of the economy with far more undesirable consequences.

It is also not inconceivable, but very much possible, that a number of harsh critics, this writer, and you the reader are alive today because of the public education, restrictions, and the resulting partial shutdown of the Jamaican economy.

Daive R Facey


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