Time to reopen...gradually

Letters to the Editor

Time to reopen...gradually

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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Dear Editor,

According to the experts and scientists, COVID-19 will be around for a long time, unless of course an effective vaccine or treatment option is found.

We have gone through a painful few months of initiation and isolation, learning best practices for how to test, treat and contain the virus and deal with the pandemic. Nearly every corner of the globe has been affected negatively by the outbreak; most are slowly beginning to see the light.

Jamaica made some mistakes along the way and hopefully learned from them, but it is time to gradually reopen the economy with strict guidelines and protocols for businesses to operate safely.

I agree with Keith Duncan, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), who called for a phased process to reopen the economy.

Although Jamaica has not been under total lockdown, the economy can begin to reopen in phases, placing restrictions on hot spots deemed problem areas and devising a policy of strict health and safety guidelines which must be followed. We need an implementation plan that is practical and realistic.

Tourism has been hard hit; many jobs have been lost. We need a plan to start rebuilding the economy and minimising our losses; going, again, in phases. We need to consider reopening the borders gradually, perhaps with regional flights and charters from specific countries where the virus is reasonably under control. If passengers wear masks and go through some screening, why not? Passengers could also be given fact sheets on COVID-19.

COVID-19 tests at borders can be limited to passengers who might be suspected of even showing mild symptoms. Enforced quarantine can be an option when necessary, it does not have to apply to all.

We are in the midst of a global pandemic with a contagious virus; we all have to be responsible. We have to condition our minds and behaviour to respond to the new norm with a change in our mindset, culture and attitudes. We must appreciate the rules to safeguard public health and limit loss of life. Masks should be worn in all public spaces and we can implement temperature checks, sanitising stations, floor markings to encourage social distancing, etc.

Let us gradually make a move now to reopen and do so safely. There should always be a contingency plan, in the event of a sudden spike or a second or third period of outbreak.

P Chin

chin_p@yahoo.com


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