Signs of hope for the reopening of the economy came yesterday with some timelines announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
As of tomorrow, the manufacturing and vehicle sale sectors will be allowed to reopen, joining the construction sector, where 45,000 workers began mobilising last week and should resume full activity tomorrow. Dr Rowley also announced that the restaurant and prepared food sector will reopen on July 19.
Coupled with the reopening of the borders on July 17, this must be good news for many who have virtually been playing a cat-and-mouse game with the police, with the prospect of stiff penalties if caught, as they sought to make a livelihood at a time when most business operations were shut down. Some individuals had even gone as far as to adjust their business modules to find a way to operate and survive amid a crippling period of extended lockdown.
The reopening of more sectors of business is, therefore, good news, especially as Dr Rowley himself yesterday acknowledged the lockdowns over the past 15 months have led to an economic disaster.
It is even more heartening to hear 800,000 more Sinopharm vaccines are arriving from China on Tuesday, with a mass rollout plan targeted to begin Friday.
But there is a note of caution that must be sounded. The best way for things to get back to normal without any major problem remains in the population’s hands. Citizens must take every opportunity to get vaccinated and to continue to exhibit the discipline needed in following the COVID-19 safety protocols.
There is a lot of misinformation and too much negativity on social media about the efficacy and safety of vaccines. We urge the population, as the Prime Minister has done, to get vaccinated since it remains one of the best weapons in the arsenal against the deadly disease.
That is critical to getting the wheels of the economy turning again. The equation is really simple—do we want to continue under the stifling measures forced upon us to curb the uncontrollable spread of the virus or do we want to return to a sense of normalcy as soon as possible.
Trinidad and Tobago is about all of us, not just a few. We join the Prime Minister in urging the population to make the decision to get vaccinated. There are very few people who have sound medical and other reasons why they cannot get vaccinated, but the vast majority can. With the threat of a more virulent strain lurking, however, we cannot take the chance of having huge sectors of the population still vulnerable to contamination.
As of yesterday, 140, 568 people were fully vaccinated and 225,546 had received the first dose. However, 935 people had also died from the virus and 34,577 had contracted it. The numbers speak for themselves. But the data also shows that countries that are doing well are those where citizens have been fully vaccinated. We now stand a better chance with the promise of a steady flow of vaccines from this month. We can join those countries, but the misinformation and anti-vaxing campaigns must stop if Trinidad and Tobago is to really stand a fighting chance.