Yesterday, the number of Trinidad and Tobago nationals who officially died as a result of COVID-19 passed the grim figure of 100.
Guardian Media wishes to extend our condolences to the family and friends of each individual who succumbed to the virus. Each victim of COVID-19 would have been loved by those close to them and their deaths, combined with the challenges of a lack of a proper send-off, must have made it even more difficult for the bereaved.
The global deaths from this pandemic have already crossed one million and it continues to rage.
In the United States and Europe, numbers are on the rise again, as the northern hemisphere becomes colder. Meanwhile, in the region, the major countries, including T&T, have seen spikes in cases and deaths since August.
Global reports suggest that efforts to produce a vaccine are progressing well but even when that vaccine is found it will not be before the middle of 2021 that mass vaccination can be expected. In other words, we have to live with this virus and its risks for some time to come.
It is this reality and the real risk to health and welfare that has challenged governments globally. T&T is no different and the Prime Minister, advised by his experts, will have to decide how we are going to operate an economy that is on life support whilst ensuring we control and limit the deaths that occur as a result of the pandemic.
The truth is that this economy cannot afford to continue the limited commerce that has been happening since March.
In particular, the entertainment sector, led by restaurants, bars and even movie theatres, have had to carry an inordinate burden in this very challenging period.
We are told hundreds of bars are closed and thousands are out of jobs. These are often low-skilled jobs and many are occupied by nationals who need them and our immigrant population – people least able to weather the downturn.
The State is not in a position to provide much more help for businesses and citizens and we have to get back to work within the safety protocols.
Businesses also have to be responsible and ensure any opening up of the economy is done in a safe and responsible way. Unfortunately, the bars have to take responsibility for some of the hardship they faced by not taking sufficient action to ensure everyone adhered to the protocols.
We, as a society, have to take some blame because at the end of the day the Government cannot legislate good behaviour. The improper wearing of masks from people who have them is an example of this.
We also know that citizens long to return to that island life, of access to the beaches and rivers and are aware the continued restrictions must be putting pressure on the psyche of citizens.
It’s a difficult road to walk but the country must open with the necessary safeguards and responsible behaviour.