Bahamas, are we headed towards a perfect storm?
As the opening of Bahamian borders to international travelers draws near, I ask the question, “Are we headed towards a perfect storm?
A perfect storm is commonly described as an especially bad situation caused by a combination of unfavourable circumstances.
On Friday, the United States of America hit another record for new coronavirus cases totaling 45,557 in a single day; nearly 9,000 were recorded in Florida – approaching some of the peak days in New York, which is the state with the worst outbreak.
Some experts have warned Florida could become the new epicenter.
I remind the government of The Bahamas that the United States makes up 80% of our tourist market.
As our bread and butter industry, thousands of Bahamians depend on tourism for their livelihood. Tourism, by its very nature, is a person-to-person sector.
In this regard, I question whether the government has done enough to boost travelers’ confidence that they will remain safe while visiting The Bahamas.
I caution the government, as we seek to restart the economy, we must do so in a way that keeps our tourists as well as citizens safe.
Like Opposition leader Philip “Brave” Davis, I call on the government to make public its detailed plan for reopening the country to tourists and keeping Bahamians safe.
Hopefully, this will be included in the prime minister’s national address on Sunday afternoon.
Jamaica has produced a COVID-19 health and safety protocols document which covers health regulations for everything from transportation to tours, hotels, and restaurants.
I searched the internet diligently, hoping to find an advertisement of the Bahamas touting the many safety precautions put in place to ensure our visitors’ safety; perhaps a worker sanitizing the airport, a taxi driver showing the safety precautions taken to ensure passengers’ safety, a hotel proudly displaying its new protocols.
Atlantis has outlined it’s new safety protocols ahead of its July 7 opening.
I was looking for something, anything, that would lure visitors back to The Bahamas, reassuring them that we have made it safe to come to The Bahamas.
As we reopen the economy, we must do so safely. While there are no risk-free or costless solutions to reopening, the question is what costs and risks are we willing to accept as a country?
While it was never our expectation to eradicate COVID-19 prior to reopening, it is our reasonable expectation that we make every effort to keep the curve relatively flat. We, the people, expect the government to take every precaution to ensure that once the economy is open, it can remain open without risking a spike in COVID cases that could lead to another lockdown.
There is a real risk, that if the economy is not opened safely, this could trigger an outbreak leading to a setback on the road to our economic recovery. We must have the right safety precautions in place as we prepare to open. To not do so would be detrimental.