In true Trinbagonian style, the immediate response to the latest COVID-19 restrictions was not a sober acknowledgement of the dire situation facing the country but a rush to get a ‘las lap’ run at the locations that closed at midnight.
This was not panic buying in the traditional sense but a rush to horde indulgences, particularly of the fast-food variety, that will not be available for the next three weeks.
It was by no means the type of essential preparations needed when, to reverse the soaring COVID-19 cases, social and commercial activities have been curtailed.
Restaurants, gyms, churches and other spaces where people congregate have been temporarily shuttered and all but essential public sector work has been halted in a scenario reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic in T&T.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, just recovered from his bout with the coronavirus, announced the new regulations from Tobago, where he had spent the last three weeks in isolation.
But his message about the urgent need to stop the spread of COVID-19 seemed to have been lost on many of those who rushed out to malls and restaurants, opting to spend hours in queues - albeit physically distanced- for very unnecessary items.
Never mind that the implementation of the newest restrictions came against the backdrop of T&T recording its highest number of new COVID-19 cases - 328, plus two more deaths.
Just a few days ago, at a Ministry of Health briefing, public health officials linked a spike in cases last year to a las lap at beaches across the country just before they were closed to the public.
This time, however, the consequences of pandemic breaches will be much more severe. Although a small fraction of the population has been administered a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, most citizens are still without even that level of protection.
To make matters worse, the latest escalation in cases is occurring just as the highly infectious Brazil variant has been detected in some parts of the country.
It all boils down to one unavoidable truth, that we have only ourselves to blame when COVID-19 gets out of control.
Just a few weeks ago, the number of active positive case was heading below 100. But one long Easter weekend of super spreader behaviour has once again set the country on the road to a public health crisis. As of yesterday, there were 1,913 active COVID-19 cases and that number is increasing at a frightening rate.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, 19,498 people have contracted COVID-19 and 165 of them have died.
There is another dangerous effect of the coronavirus. Yesterday’s shutting down of several sectors once again stifles economic and social activities to a degree that cannot be sustained over the long term.
The warnings must be heeded. Gatherings of any kind above the stipulated numbers could be the nation’s downfall. The limes and the las laps that are so deeply embedded in our cultural identity can be dangerous activities in this time of COVID-19.