#COVID19Chronicles-77: June 30, 2020: Taking a short #COVID19Life staycation

We love Portland, so a wife tired of weeks of Zoom or Teams videoconferencing and a daughter glad to have ended weeks of online schooling wanted to go there for a few days. Road trip! Add in some teen friends and a ‘household’ was ready to go. We headed east, through St. Thomas.

St. Thomas is getting new roads

All we had to do was follow the coast but my wife couldn’t resist a few turns to head inland. But, no mind; we headed on in convoy with Boston jerk as our first target. A few adventures like that keep the journey interesting and hunger at bay, so we were glad to reach Boston Beach, home of jerk cooking. We saw quickly that ‘new normal’ was in effect, and the vendor had no problems when my wife said “We’re not getting out of the car,” by replying “See how I’m keeping my social distance.” Within minutes of our ordering, two bags of chicken, pork and sausages were in our grasp, with some festival and roast breadfruit. One more missed turn, er ‘detour’ a few hundred metres from our destination and we arrived. Tired and stiff, but safe. A quick greeting to the house staff and unpacking and table was ready to eat and lounging to begin.

New normal tourism: food at a distance and health protocols

But, wait! We had to go through the ‘new normal’ health protocols on arrival, as all staff were armed with temperature testers. The house had a wall-mounted hand sanitizer at the entrance; bottles of sanitizer were all over the place. All of the staff wore masks; they never took them off until they were ready to leave. Comfort levels on taking the virus spread was, therefore, high. It’s a tricky business, and it’s clear that the tourist sector has much to lose from lax approaches, not least in creating fear amongts visitors, especailly foreigners, already edgy going to another country whose health facilities may give them cause for concern.

The contrast is that, locally, we’re slipping in our health practices, and that needs to be addressed fast.

So, chillaxing can begin. After our late lunch/early dinner at about 4.30p, we were all ready for that. My daughter was quick to test the sea, if only to get on a paddle board to head off a few metres to a dock. We stayed out, with her and her mother playing backgammon, to teach the others how, but the game went on a few hours, after which our kid had a Zoom session with a US college. We enjoyed the setting sun and marine life at night.

We had a surprise visit from the local MP, whom we know, and appreciated her taking time for us in her usual action-filled schedule. That’s a nice welcome on your own island. 🙂

It was great to spend the night with doors wide open. We love Portland!

#COVID19Chronicles-76: June 29, 2020: The price of poor judgement—some clarity on political cost of Holywell lease deal

This is really for my own personal peace of mind, but worth sharing. When I was writing yesterday about political missteps the government/Cabinet may be making, I was unaware of a piece of confirming evidence about part of the recent Cabinet reshuffling, namely the reason for removing the land and environment portfolio from Daryl Vaz. However, the PM made clear in a radio interview (perhaps lost in the PR puff of him doing pushups).

In a discussion last Friday on Hotline with Emily Shields, Mr. Holness said (my emphases): “That [his attempt to lease lands in the Holywell area of the Blue Mountains] would have been one consideration. There were other considerations. Remember there was no minister, minister without portfolio or even a junior minister who would have had direct oversight over the water and housing portfolio for a little while after Pearnel Charles Jr took up representational politics. So that was a consideration, Holywell situation was a consideration, but the most important thing in my mind is the economic recovery.” The Prime Minister said Mr. Vaz recognises the need for the shift and has agreed that the issue concerning the Holywell lands was “poor judgement”. According to Mr. Holness,”he understands and acknowledged that maybe it is best that he’s refocused and he is very happy to go to water.”

In the strange landscape of Jamaican politics, this is not a trivial acknowledgement; it’s more in keeping with fine words about accountability and transparency. It’s better, in my mind, than the PM being mum and leaving things open to speculation. It can give the PM the right to say things like ‘I have dealt with…’. That said, it still leaves open, in a general ‘good governance’ sense, the question ‘What are the limits for ‘poor judgement’ and what line has to be crossed for that to cost a minister his position?’.

As I’ve written often, with regard to (political) integrity, the personal responsibility that’s needed shouldn’t be set with a bar that’s so high that no one sees they’ve crossed it.

#COVID19Chronicles-75: June 28, 2020: Election smoke signals seen over the hills, but feet keep getting put in mouths

This is just a brief skip across the fields, like a lamb on a Spring day.

Jamaica must hold its next general elections by early-2021; our system gives the choice of date to the government of the day. Whatever the perceived pros and cons of fixed election dates, I’m sure that in COVID19-ridden life the choice of when to put your political neck on the block is one that many would prefer to be their choice than for it to be fixed. (I’m sure that many with fixed-date systems will be combing through the rules to see if they can wiggle out of holding elections while people are locked down and infections and deaths may still be spiralling. With that said, it’s fascinating to see what’s going on the USA with primary election voting—see primary and caucuses map.

One would be naive to not sense more election arithmetic coming into play in recent weeks. Most recently, Cabinet shuffling makes little sense in any other optic, even with the wrinkly events this week of an MP being elevated to the Cabinet in a clear move to ‘punish’ a current Cabinet member who was in charge of land and environment who didn’t see anything wrong with trying to lease land adjacent to protected areas in the Blue Mountains. (To recap: Daryl Vaz tried to obtain a 25-year lease that would have allowed him to construct a private cabin on protected lands within the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, a World Heritage Site. The cabin was earmarked for use in the lucrative Airbnb sector. The cost of the lease was $120,000 per annum.) While some have called for stronger action for this seeming lack of judgement, at least, it’s well understood that Mr. Vaz, now just handling the housing and water portfolios, is a major fund raiser and whose further alienation would be another shot in a bleeding foot.

This new Cabinet member a few days later then announced that he wont be seeking re-election. As my wife would say, “Who does that?” The man is in one of the ‘battleground’ seats, NE St Catherine, where the winning margin was a mere 122 votes. To my little pea brain, it’s not really obvious how all of that helps solidify the JLP position in a seat with one of the flimsiest majorities. A nice piece today in The Sunday Gleaner by Colin Campbell illustrates this and other such seats held by both sides, where they won by fewer than 700 votes.

Source: The Sunday Gleaner

The elevation in the preceding week of two of the oldest members of the ruling party from ‘ministers without portfolio’ to full Cabinet ministers in charge of ministries only makes real sense with an eye on elections (Karl Samuda-78; Mike Henry-85). These are seasoned politicians in safe seats, who are still capable of running ministries, and are backed by much younger deputies, but you’d have to call me crazy if these were put forward as moves with eyes to a longer future than at best a few months.

Now, I’m not in the election date forecasting business, and those who see August in the frame are basing that bet on the fact that the states of public emergency (SOE) will expire on July 25, and the PM has said he’d not hold elections while SOEs were still in place.

However, I am keeping an eye on the actions of politicians with a certain keenness. 

So, here is some musing in a Twitter thread this morning:

It’s easier to read the thread here:

As I often stress, not a political analyst, just a keen observer of human behaviour. If I was leader of a government heading into a general election, I’d be stressing certain things to my team, esp my Cabinet. 1. Do not make mistakes that will alienate large groups of people.

Behaviour that casts suspicion on our concerns 4ordinary people must be avoided, so no shady land or property deals, no comments that will upset women & show that we/men don’t care. 2. Give off warm concern for the plight of ordinary Jamaicans. 3. Realise COVID lock down strains.

4. Realise that many Jamaicans are financially under the cosh, more so as remittance flows stalled & not every one can get CARE support. 5. Feel for those with children; home schooling ahead of key exams like PEP put many families near emotional breaking points.

6. Resolve some outstanding potential embarrassments (eg PetroJam, CMU). 7. Keep close eyes on problems ordinary people face with utilities (JPS billing & frequent outages, Flow/Digicel service quality, NWC general supply problems). 8. Tout success of road programme.

9. Understand that most Jamaicans rely on taxis & buses so anything that puts access to those at risk will be problems. 10. Accept that few will think a great job been done curtailing major & violent crimes & it’s an Achilles heel.

It’s with that perspective that I want to touch on what happened in recent days with the minister of justice, Delroy Chuck. After, the ‘Holywell debacle’ why would another experienced Cabinet foot be put into the mouth?

His demeanour and comments about sexual harassment were embarrassing to many; Jamaicans see this as almost solely a matter that affects women, but it’s a problem of different magnitude for men and children.

If you don’t understand that latter point, read this report in today’s papers.

His disrespect for the #MeToo movement is the sort of thing that sends shivers down the spine of many females and those who have females close to them, like parents. I’m not going to parse his final apology, which came after a couple of less than well-worded attempts:

However, joviality does mean lack of empathy; that’s the essence of humour—it’s at someone’s expense.

The damage was already done. In a series of somewhat muddled apologies for initially supporting the minister (apparently because she thought criticisms of him related to something that had happened to her due to an appearance earlier in the week on ‘TVJ All Angles’, the Attorney General made her view known that the minister’s approach was “unfortunate and wrong”:

2EB0C7FF-EFEB-464C-9794-FDCA429CAB2E

That’s not a trivial condemnation, coming from his fellow Cabinet colleague who is the government’s legal advisor. What we have yet to hear is whether the PM wants to dissociate himself and his government from the minister’s position.

I do not think a ‘reasonable’ time is what should be the focus in trying to address how any person deals with personal trauma: it’s a dangerous simplification to think that everyone’s timeline for dealing with personal distress can be neatly carved. As the report on rapes of minors should also makes clear, we have a significant body of victims who cannot reasonably be expected to address such distress in a short period of time (imagine a child of 2 years old who can barely speak in sentences being a victim and being given to his/her 3rd birthday to be able to articulate the wrong). 

PNP showed in 2016 that it’s quite easy to throw away a winning electoral hand by misplaying cards and not focusing on the main elements of the game (the story should have been about the economic turn around, but instead it became a story about Mr. Holness’s house). So, because nothing is certain, it’s quite possible for JLP to squander what looks like a winning position in similar fashion because politicians are just careless and carefree in their disregard for who the electorate really are—ordinary people looking to live a decent life and see a better future for themselves and their families. 

#COVID19Chronicles-74: June 27, 2020: ‘Community surveillance’ in two communities show high risk of re-opening borders

I find it odd that in a week where a significant new development occurs during the COVID19 pandemic the PM and minster of health and wellness don’t see the imperative of providing a briefing update.

‘Community surveillance’ has begun in two communities at opposite ends of the island, West Kingston (most notable for Tivoli Gardens and its community of densely-populated high rise apartments) and Norwood, St. James (northwest coast).

These intensified measures were announced at the end of the work week.

My concern is two-fold. First, since the border restrictions were lifted on June 1, we have seen a dramatic but inevitable rise in positive COVID19 cases that are imported. Second, it has been clear for some weeks that locals have slackened off in their attitude to health protocols. That’s been most notable in a dropping off in mask wearing, but also in the willingness and extent to which people are not practising much social distancing. That added to the natural desire to reconnect to returning/arriving nationals is a powder keg for a quick re-escalation of cases and possibly the quick return to tighter restrictions. We have seen this happen in several countries already, most notably, New Zealand declaring itself COVID-free for 24 consecutive days only to find two cases amongst arrivals from abroad and revert to restrictions after they were mistakenly released from quarantine early. The arrivals were from the UK; one had mild symptoms, the other was symptom-free.

Though, not absolutely clear from the daily reports, it seems that tourists in Jamaica have not been as notable in the new imported cases, judging by the citing of addresses that are spread over parishes not part of the (north coast) ‘resilient corridor’.

So, in west Kingston five cases are contacts of a confirmed case that recently returned to the island from the USA. So, now some 100 health staff—nurses, public health inspectors, public health nurses and community health aides—will conduct house-to-house visits and assess the residents for respiratory symptoms. It noted that residents with symptoms and those who the health team deem are at high risk will be tested for COVID19 and quarantine orders served.

In Paradise Norwood, 12 positive cases of COVID19 infected people are said to be contacts of a confirmed case that also recently returned to the island from the USA.

The stark reminder is that these 17 cases stem from contact with only 2 confirmed cases.

While the minister of health and wellness recently backtracked on his concerns that changes since June 1 could see an exponential increase in cases, we have clear signs of how that view may soon have to be revised. 

The clear risk every country faces in reopening its borders or relaxing restrictions is that person-to-person contacts increase and with that so does the risk of spread of the virus and the need to return to limiting movements. You only find out if you relax too early when it’s too late.

#COVID19Chronicles-73: June 26, 2020: Mask politics—crazies on the loose

Our local problems with mask wearing seem simple compared to the brewing volcano of protests in the USA.

In Jamaica, people seem to be either hitting ‘protocol fatigue’ regarding certain personal health, of which wearing masks in public is the most visible. That’s not so surprising: people aren’t usually asked to follow extraordinary practices for months at a time. Many people seem to have taken the view that, once restrictions started to be removed, that meant the worst of the pandemic was over. It’s also clear to me that the ‘messengers’ have garbled the messages and people can reasonably say these are shown to be option, even when described as mandatory. In principle, that’s easy to fix, but I fear the horse might have long bolted from the stable. So, in Jamaica, ‘new normal’ means reverting to old normal, maybe, with social distancing applied sometimes. So, mask wearing in public is far less. Some locals, however, wear with a flair: 🙂

The argument around this can swirl, still, because I for one see no need or value in wearing a mask when social distancing is well practised, eg on a bike ride, or run, or playing golf, and one is well over 2 metres from another person–distancing is believed to be the best safe health practice.

However, many local establishments now insist on visitors wearing masks. We insist on it for visitors to our home: we have had workmen here for nearly a month and they have been good about wearing their masks, even in sometimes searing heat; they understand the imperative. We make sure we have masks when we venture out in the car or for a stroll, in case there’s a close meeting, planned or accidental.

The international picture seems to be that most countries are imploring citizens to wear masks and imposing that in some cases. A Ghanaian friend raled at me this week because of the law where he lives that makes it an offence to not wear a mask when driving alone’.

In the USA, however, mask wearing has taken on political importance. A group of people in Florida were recorded making a range of truly bizarre claims to an audience at a commission, mainly based around their religious belief that the mask-wearing demands suggests “they want to throw God’s wonderful breathing system out the door”, or the Clintons, or ‘paeodophiles’. I guess these people have a problem with masks for nurses and doctors and those who work with dangerous chemicals and their fumes. Or, maybe, they don’t.

I could simply dismiss these as the rants of crazy people, and I probably will. The trouble is these crazy people tend to also find their way out from under their rocks and into my habitat. Now, I know one can’t brand all people as the same, but there’s an air of insanity that seems to be breathed inside the USA that is dangerous, plain and simple, and borderline insane at worse.

https://twitter.com/aravosis/status/1275449685495300099?s=21

Well, conspiracy theory is now an compulsory course it seems for many in the USA.

I think those Jamaicans who worry about the prevalence of mask-wearing because of the known problems we have with criminals have a more valid set of concerns than those people in Palm Springs. But, what do I know?

To add to the political admixture in the USA, the president is not in favour of masks and now even seems to think their being worn as part of a plot against him. His approach, which has left many in West Wing infected seems to speak for itself.

His opponent in the coming presidential election, Joe Biden, is going in the opposite direction:

https://twitter.com/sambowne/status/1276512939692838914?s=21

 

#COVID19Chronicles-72: June 25, 2020: The long wait is over…Liverpool are Premier League champions 2019/20. Walk on!

Thirty years without a league title is a long time for a club that has had much success in domestic and international football. It was nearly to be last season, but a good cushion early on was eaten away by the Man. City juggernaut, and losing by one point was painful. But, this season, the lads from Merseyside were like a train running out of control and their lead was comfortably large and then insanely wild, up to 25 points, needing 6 more to be sure of the title. Then… COVID19.

The long wait during the pandemic to see if English football would resume left many nervous that the unthinkable might happen: the season be declared null and void and no title awarded. Fortunately, that insanity did get to be applied. (It’s absurd to think that other leagues with leads that were narrower, decided to end and award titles—France and Scotland, for example. But, matches resumed on June 17, behind closed doors.

Bizarrely, Liverpool resumed last Sunday with the Merseyside derby, but without all the fanfare and emotional drama normally associated with that tie. City restarted well with two handsome wins and cut the lead as they made up games in hand. Liverpool stuttered at Goodison, but got back into top gear last night against Crystal Palace, who parked 11 buses but couldn’t stop four sumptuous goals to go down 4-0. So, tow points were needed, and City were playing Chelsea tonight at Stamford Bridge.

Well, never easy to watch matches like this, but both sides put on an exciting display, with some sloppy play on both sides that got duly punished. Chelsea (Pulisic) scored after a midfield mix-up for 1-0 at HT. City equalized after a silly free kick gave De Bruyne a good look and his free kick sailed in. Late in the half, a goal mouth scramble saw Fernandinho handle near the goal line and Willian dispatched the penalty kick for 2-1. City didn’t let up—proud to the last.

Liverpool will be celebrating in an odd way, with no mass crowds out in public. When and if they can get that fixed, we will have to see.

Congratulations to Jurgen Klopp (Mr. Energen bunny; adding to the two titles he won with Borussia Dortmund) and ‘the boys’: fabulous football, all season long. Still getting off the high of last year’s Champions League final win, off the amazing semifinal comeback to beat Barcelona. It’s been a ride and a half. 

Though, I’m a lifelong QPR supporter, my love affair with Liverpool began in the 1960s, when they were managed by the incomparable Bill Shankly (“football,,,is more important than life and death”). I got to loved them more in the late-1970s, when they pipped QPR for the First Division title on the last day. I loved them more, when I lived in North Wales, and Merseyside was just around the corner and Scousers were as much my neighbours and friends and Welshmen. So, they never walked alone in my heart. Walk on!

 

#COVID19Chronicles-71: June 24, 2020: Waking up and smelling the coffee: QUEEN? OR COUNTRY?

This piece I’m reblogging is by Gordon Robinson, one of Jamaica’s best attorneys and a man with few qualms about digging his own furrow, says many of the things I’ve been thinking as I see a string of Jamaicans ‘waking up’ to the reality that has been part of their daily existence for nearly 60 years.

The nation’s politicians chose in 1962 a form of independence from the UK that was limited in many ways, but hung fundamentally to the idea that the new country would give its allegiance to the UK’s monarch. The queen, or whichever monarch, is Jamaica’s head of state and her representative is the Governor General. He’s the extension of her realm. Fighting over the symbols he wears is not a real fight, because it is paraphanalia that is born out of a set of British traditions, that we have signed onto. As Robinson says, it’s nothing better or worse than seeking appellations such as ‘Queen’s Counsel’ and not just seeking them but holding  them dear to our hearts. We’ve not released ourselves from having a UK body as our final arbiter on legal matters—the Privy Council—like leaving your parents’ home and then running back there when there’s a big fight between you and  your partner. Which part of that never seemed appropriate? 

Whatever we may think or say about the USA, when they fought for Independence (and maybe that’s part of the mindset) they held onto to nothing but language.

So, get it straight: the pearls being clutched now about the insignia or the names of things that honour the  former colonial rulers are like trying to pick our raisins from a fruit cake: they’re part of the main/essential ingredients. If you really don’t want them then bake another cake. 

But, in the waggonist tradition that is also part of modern Jamaica, I’m sure we’ve a few more days of ‘Bun di GG!’ type raling to go. 

I’ve noticed the sudden social media astonishment at the details of the Governor General’s (GG) insignia. Really? Seriously? It’s the INSIGNIA that …

QUEEN? OR COUNTRY?

#COVID19Chronicles-70: June 23, 2020: Beware, Jamaica! It’s Harmattan (Sahara dust) time.

One of my more intriguing experiences was being in west Africa when it’s Harmattan and dealing with the dust storms there in one of the source areas west of the Sahara Desert. Not recommended jogging when visibility is less than 2 metres (in Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania) and living with sand in everything: I remember my hotel room having to be swept every day even though the windows were sealed and my luggage was about a pound heavier on my return journeys because of sand that had accumulated in it, even though locked and in a wardrobe. 🙂

More generally, sand storms are a way of life in that area, so I just had to hack it for two weeks at at time—the things we do to salvage other people’s economies 😦 :

I think I can accept the hazy days to come.

But, will I wilt under the heat? We’re into summer so should expect days in the 90F/33C range. We’ve gone months without AC at night but the lady couldn’t hack it last night as 86F/29C was registered during the evening; it’s 79F/26C now at 4am.😳

We got advice from the minister of health and wellness, especially for those prone to respiratory illnesses, which came with more reasons to wear masks, and keeping away from the dust–more distancing 🙂 

https://twitter.com/christufton/status/1275155688898154496?s=21

A friend shared a picture of the poor visibility yesterday afternoon and how the mountains weren’t visible, as she headed towards Portmore from the west at 6pm:

Anyway, I’ll focus on some of the good that comes from this passage of sand from the west of Africa across the Atlantic Ocean. My teen and I spent a few hours watching ‘Our Planet’ last week and David Attenborough told us about the life-giving properties of this sand as some of it drops into the water en route to the Caribbean area. As reported in Scientific American:

‘Saharan sand carries nitrogen, phosphorus and iron—delicious and essential treats for phytoplankton, which are microscopic ocean plants. The sand frequently hitches a ride on atmospheric convection currents and travels as far south as the tropical Atlantic and west to the Caribbean Sea.‘

But, they also noted that ‘Saharan dust in the ocean is a “mixed blessing,” according to NASA’s Earth Observatory. The plankton that feed on the dust’s minerals can bloom significantly, providing food for other ocean creatures, but an overgrown bloom can consume much of the dissolved oxygen in an area and create an anoxic dead zone.’ This has been seen more in areas further north in the Atlantic, towards the UK.

So, literally, what goes around, comes around, and the food chain base in the oceans get what they need, so that we can later get what we need. 

Nature’s so fascinating. Pity we don’t understand it better 🙂

#COVID19Chronicles-69: June 22, 2020: On the trail of endemic plant species :)

A man called me last Friday, saying he lives in Hanover and wondered if I could help him with some custard apples. What? He’d seen some pictures of the fruit that he thought I had taken (seen here).

After several minutes of discussion, it turned out that he’s associated with a group of botanists working at the University of the West Indies and the Institute of Jamaica. However, that didn’t come clear until I saw pictures I’d taken and posted on social media being recirculated. Anyway, I got in touch with a naturalist (doing lots of great work with birds, lizards, iguanas, and plants all over the island) who’s well known on social media, Damion Whyte, and arranged for him to visit my yard in Jack’s Hill, St. Andrew. He’s trying to identify endemic species of the plant and decided to try crowd-sourcing on social media.

The fruit in question doesn’t grow on the property but is from a tree next door that overhangs, but it close to a boundary wall. We set up a meeting for Sunday noon.

Damion seems like a good and committed guy and he started well by arriving on time. After a few socially distant greetings, we set off to the bottom of the yard and he got quite excited as he saw the tree.

Sadly, it looks distressed and many of the fruit wither and harden without giving good crops. We have had more than a dozen good custard apples from it over the past two years, since we ‘discovered’ it. As its name suggests, the fruit has a custardy texture and is sweeter than either sweet or sour sop. 268C1E6B-BA78-4662-BDC1-D7C83F0DE262

He set off climbing.

The technical name for the fruit growing over my yard is annona reticulatacommonly called custard apple, wild sweet sop or bullock’s heart. 

Well, Damion’s gone off with a good collection of fauna in the form of branches, leaves and fruit with seeds, and will put them through the plant DNA tests and let us know.1F51345F-2DC1-4B5C-AEB5-969CD92BE491

It’s fun to be part of living science. 🙂

#COVID19Chronicles-68: June 21, 2020: Personal responsibility? Are we serious about the need for masks?

“Personal responsibility” is the message given to the people by the PM, loud, clear and early.

https://twitter.com/sleekjamaica/status/1237485432176349189?s=21

Well, we ought to know how that story ends, at least in many places. It’s not just in Jamaica where personal responsibility means my way or the highway; I’ll do as I please. So, I’m less surprised that one of the aspects, as far as COVID19 prevention goes, is wearing masks where it is appropriate. I add that clause because the advice given by the World Health Authority is that the best practice is to keep personal contact down to a minimum, ie social distancing (at least 1 metre), and if that’s not possible, then masks—properly fitted over nose and mouth—are a good thing for the general public to be wearing.

Admittedly, WHO has changed over the period of the pandemic, and they are not at one with the Center for Disease Control (CDC). But, the prevailing policy direction is for masks to be worn in public and in Jamaica it’s been mandated.

So, I honestly don’t have real problems when I see people outdoors and not wearing masks when they are many metres/feet away from others. If they have a mask to hand, that’s reassuring because you don’t know what chance encounters will occur. Depending on intended activities, it’s more often the case now that you cannot enter an establishment without a mask (and other types of health protocols, eg temperature checks).

When I went out early on Saturday morning, I was not shocked that few people wore masks, but many people were keeping a decent distance between themselves.

Unmasked but socially distant on the sidewalk in Barbican

I don’t have a picture, but I noted that two old guys outside a bar were in each other’s faces in the nicest way, as drinkers often are, even so early in the day.

As I’ve noted in recent weeks, when going to the golf course, I see many people without masks and so it was yesterday. The golf course is applying strict rules for the workers to wear masks, though some are relaxing that.

The self-policing of best practices is going to be a major challenge, not least because the problem we face (no pun) is not one that’s immediately visible at any stage, unlike something like a pox. So, many are lulled into false sense of security because they and their acquaintances don’t have symptoms and may well have not had any need for masks most of the time. It’s not yet second nature to put on a mask or carry one, though it should be.

What’s clear to me is that those who are interacting with others in settings where mask-wearing and sanitization etc are now mandatory are more readily just doing that all the time. For many others, it’s still an occasional practice.

What bothered me most yesterday was that most of the vendors I saw were no longer wearing masks nor were their customers. So, close interactions are again a place for possible transmission. When one puts that together with the general re-opening of many activities it’s easy to see that ‘community spread’ is going to be on the cards again.

My major concern, however, is with those officials and politicians making policies but ignoring the advice they are offering to the public. We don’t have the problems of some countries where such people have broken ‘lock down’ rules to go about their personal business (as with Dominic Cummings, the UK PM’s special advisor). But, we do have many going off message. The most shocking I saw last week was the chief medical officer at a function for emergency equipment to deal with the pandemic, amongst others with masks and not wearing one herself. What does that say?

https://twitter.com/dennisgjones/status/1273971051769344002?s=21

You have all the PR urging one practice:

https://twitter.com/srhajamaica/status/1267828802693947394?s=21

Yet, you have politicians adopting the opposite, albeit in pursuit of other good health objectives:

https://twitter.com/nestaja/status/1274409241147817984?s=21

At the least, most people will be confused. Is it a rule for all, or a rule for some. Is it do as I say or do as I do?

These were the messages given just over a week ago:

“… The outbreak is not over. It is not over! And this is the most critical point as we make changes in how we manage because with new populations coming in, there [are] risks of exposure,” the CMO warned. 

‘Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton also lamented the growing aloofness to coronavirus warnings.

“As it relates to the wearing of masks, it is a concern. We have to get Jamaicans to appreciate that a big part of confronting this health threat is personal responsibility,” Dr. Tufton said.

We are seeing in the short time since the borders reopened, the spike in positive cases and the prevalence of cases being ‘imported’ and contacts of such people.

People are already asking ‘What was the effort for?’