White rabbit, good luck, good luck. Good luck, white rabbit, good luck, good luck. Pinch, punch, first of the month, and no returns.
The start of June brings much hope in many countries that the worst of the (first wave) of COVID19 pandemic conditions is behind us, and receding fast in the rear view mirror. Much of the public commentary in May was about whether curves were flattening and if the infection and recovery rates were moving in directions that would support easing significantly restrictions on activities. Some countries had eased their restrictions on movement and opened their borders. Airlines were announcing resumption of services. However, the doors were not opening too widely, internationally. For good reason; countries had worked hard to contain the spread of the various and it would be retrograde to just turn over all of the effort and sacrifices most have made.
As I noted over the weekend, the prospects for professional sports have put a smile on billions of faces. While people may still not be able to go to cheer on their sporting favourites, they can again see some of them in live action. Psychologically, that’s been important to many. While the atmosphere at games as been muted, little steps and adjustments are being made to replicate the fervour and fun of events. I watched Bayern Munich play at the weekend, and could hear the piping in of crowd cheers in support of the home team. Whether it spurred the easy win or not?
In countries, like Jamaica, which depend heavily on foreign tourism, the prospects for opening their borders are looking more positive. But, we’re a ways off from full-blown singing and dancing in the streets:
Some CARICOM countries, like St. Lucia, have set out the health protocols they want observed when it reopens for foreign tourism on June 4. The expectations are that strict and clear start-to-end health protocols will be enforced, aimed at eliminating from travel those with signs of viral infection and reducing risks of transmission for the duration of travel and stay at destination. While they may seem onerous to most, people with high-risk tolerance may be saying it’s no major deterrent. We’ll soon see what kind of take up there is.
For Jamaica, the major US airlines have indicated they will be resuming flights from Jamaica this week. However, current plans are for Jamaica not to pre-test arriving visitors, citing lack of resources to make this viable.
Last night, the PM’s virtual press conference announced what easing, if any, would come our way. The main take away is that the door is being cracked open a little. ‘Work from home’ Orders are being being replaced with ‘Work smart, work safe’, with a host of general health protocols advertised for workplaces and people to observe. It’s more of ‘take care of your own health’ in that no one can supervise all activities.
Secondary schools will reopen, partially, on June 8 to allow for CSEC and CAPE exam preparations, with sittings on July 13.
So, the broad take away is that we will likely see an steady influx of Jamaicans returning home, and if current trends continue, an uptick in infections imported with them. Curfews are here to stay for the rest of the month, but with an extra hour of activity from mid-month. That should allow the resumption of many activities.
Not all will be a happy, but I feel many will appreciate that most health safeguards are firmly in place, with the addition that many also now understand better that this is a continuous process of ‘living with’ the virus, not eradicating it.