Deportes

Discipline must drive reopening activity

This me­dia house thus urges cit­i­zens to con­tin­ue to prac­tise all the health and safe­ty pro­to­cols. The coun­try has suf­fered sig­nif­i­cant­ly un­der COVID’s sus­tained pres­sure. How­ev­er, the ul­ti­mate pow­er to keep it at bay to re­turn to some sem­blance of nor­mal­cy still re­sides in cit­i­zens’ hands

Yes­ter­day’s smooth re­open­ing of Trinidad and To­ba­go’s bor­der to re­gion­al and in­ter­na­tion­al trav­ellers was good news to thou­sands not on­ly here but with­in the Di­as­po­ra. Af­ter all, it has been over a year and a half that the bor­ders were closed due to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, re­strict­ing as well the free move­ment of not on­ly in­di­vid­u­als but goods and ser­vices and even the abil­i­ty to con­duct busi­ness with ex­ter­nal re­gion­al and in­ter­na­tion­al en­ti­ties in some cas­es.

A com­bined two re­gion­al flights brought na­tion­als who may have been strand­ed abroad or chose to wait out the sit­u­a­tion wher­ev­er they were and oth­er in­di­vid­u­als to T&T. Caribbean Air­lines flight No. BW 607 from George­town, Guyana, was the first flight to start the process, bring­ing on board a mea­gre 18 pas­sen­gers. More im­por­tant­ly, how­ev­er, was the mere fact that the bor­der gate­way was now re­opened. Con­verse­ly, three flights took per­sons leav­ing T&T to con­duct oth­er forms of ac­tiv­i­ty they were pre­vi­ous­ly un­able to.

In that re­gard, it was re­fresh­ing to hear Works and Trans­port Min­is­ter Ro­han Sinanan in­di­cate that there was a seam­less re­open­ing of the bor­der and ac­tiv­i­ty at the Pi­ar­co In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port and that all the health and safe­ty pro­to­cols put in place, in­clud­ing the start-up of a COVID-19 test­ing lab for ar­riv­ing pas­sen­gers, were fol­lowed with no is­sues.

But yes­ter­day’s re­open­ing was but the first test of the sys­tem. In the com­ing days, flight ac­tiv­i­ty will in­crease and oth­er air­lines will al­so re­open their route sched­ules to T&T, bring­ing more peo­ple traf­fic and pos­si­bly a surge ahead, giv­en that it al­so co­in­cides with the va­ca­tion pe­ri­od both here and in North Amer­i­ca.

This is why hours af­ter Min­is­ter Sinanan’s com­ment, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley’s state­ment that there were al­ready in­di­vid­u­als seek­ing to trick their way through the health pro­to­col process im­ple­ment­ed for reen­try to the coun­try was dis­heart­en­ing.

With the dead­ly Delta vari­ant look­ing large and wreak­ing hav­oc in sev­er­al coun­tries that felt they had turned the curve on the dis­ease, T&T can­not af­ford to let its guard down on this im­por­tant first line of keep­ing the dis­ease out. In­deed, one per­son slip­ping through the cracks can cause a con­ta­gious rip­ple ef­fect which may set the coun­try back by the 16 months of full eco­nom­ic and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ty it lost to the first and sec­ond waves of COVID.

Added to this, to­mor­row will see the re­open­ing of the food and restau­rant sec­tor, fol­low­ing on the re­open­ing of the man­u­fac­tur­ing and con­struc­tion sec­tors re­cent­ly, mak­ing it the busiest pe­ri­od of hu­man ac­tiv­i­ty the coun­try would have seen in months.

As such, now is not the time to be­come com­pla­cent on COVID-19. There was more good news yes­ter­day that cit­i­zens were ac­cess­ing vac­cines and that a batch of Pfiz­er jabs on the way could be used to in­oc­u­late chil­dren at sec­ondary school lev­el ahead of the new school year in Sep­tem­ber.

This me­dia house thus urges cit­i­zens to con­tin­ue to prac­tise all the health and safe­ty pro­to­cols. The coun­try has suf­fered sig­nif­i­cant­ly un­der COVID’s sus­tained pres­sure. How­ev­er, the ul­ti­mate pow­er to keep it at bay to re­turn to some sem­blance of nor­mal­cy still re­sides in cit­i­zens’ hands.