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Column: ‘Situation Could Have Been Avoided’

[Opinion column written by Vic Ball]

How can you be sitting there telling me that you care, when every time I look around, the people are suffering in every way, everywhere. Bob Marley

We all feel it. There is a high level of fear, anxiety, concern and trepidation in our country. What puzzles me is why Bermudians are not angry, when they have so many reasons to be. Instead, we are complacent while staring at personal and national ruin with a level of resignation.

Our leadership seems to have convinced us that no matter how catastrophic everything looks all around us and on the horizon, this is the best Bermuda we can have.

“Our Present Situation Could Have And Should Have Been Avoided”

The truth is that our present situation could have and should have been avoided. Had our Premier and Cabinet made the correct decisions, life would have been so much different today. Allow me to tease out this thought and we can determine if our present leadership has failed time and again when decisive action is required.

By the summer of 2020, Bermuda had Covid under control. The PLP took credit for following the global script. If we remember, planes were grounded and cruise ships were docked, there was no opportunity for the virus to get here once we became Covid free. However, since then, when Bermuda needed to set out its own plan to open the country up and move forward, it has not been going well for us.

Every country had to choose the strategy that would work best for them. Will we lockdown or not, to what extent should testing be performed and how long will travelers have to quarantine before being allowed to enter our Covid free bubble? These are some of the decisions that had to be made by our leadership without a global script.

The decisions to these questions and others have resulted in our country being on lockdown for a third time in one year. Bermudians, businesses, our national economy and confidence in our country is in the worst state in my memory. Even the recent decision to close the island within 48 hours produced long lines and panic buying. We are hopeful that these last-minute social interactions do not show up as positive case and prove to be another poor decision by our leadership.

Bermudians should be angry because none of this was necessary. Our country has everything needed to be a jurisdiction where we could have controlled this virus. We should have been boasting to the world that we have little to no Covid transmissions. We should have been on the global map as an oasis of beauty, with friendly people and open for investment and visitors. Bermudians should be going to bed at night knowing that our future is safe and our collective interest is in the capable hands of our political leadership.

Premier Burt and his team seem to have us convinced that having our homes devalued, losing our jobs, businesses closing, high unemployment, shutdowns and poor leadership is the best we can hope for.

Let us review what is going on in other countries around the world for comparison. Wuhan, the place where this all started, is fully open with no masks or social restriction. Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore and Vietnam are among the top jurisdictions for their handling of Covid regarding positive cases compared with deaths. Bermuda, as of April 18th, has had 2123 positive cases and 18 deaths in our population of 62,278.

Singapore has had 60,808 positive cases and 30 deaths in their population of 5.69M people. If they were doing as poorly as Bermuda, they would have 193,967 positive cases and 1645 deaths when compared with our population size. We are isolated like New Zealand and Taiwan except they have many airports to allow entry and Bermuda only has one. Why are we at level four which advises tourists not to come to Bermuda?

If we look at Cayman, which is similar to us in size, isolation and population they have 525 cases and 2 deaths. I shared my research of Cayman with a Cabinet Minister in 2020 and the reasons for their success, to no avail. In Cayman, they do not social distance, they do not wear masks, their crowd size is 500 people indoors and 1000 people outdoors. They had one lockdown in the beginning and have made great decisions to keep their economy open. Why are we currently on lockdown when other countries are doing so well? Poor leadership and poor decisions have resulted in our country being on the precipice of social and economic ruin.

“Decision To Open Our Country Without A Mandatory 14-day Quarantine For All Travelers”

The decision to open our country without a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers, the gold standard, is a primary reason why we are in our current crisis. Travelers are able to be out in the community after a negative pre arrival test and a negative arrival test which could come as soon as 24 hours after leaving the airport. If they test positive on day 4, 8 or 14 how many people have they been in contact with in the interim? I reject that people socializing are to blame fully when it is political leadership that provide the rules that allow people to socialize during those initial 14 days.

The Premier boasts that we have a high number of tests being performed. However, other jurisdictions that are doing much better than us only test people with symptoms. Is this because they believe, like our Premier, that “low level” positive cases do not have Covid?

“One Year Later With No End In Sight”

Bermuda, let’s face reality. The PLP has provided poor leadership of our country to date. Our constitutional rights and freedoms were suspended for two weeks to “flatten the curve” and here we are one year later with no end in sight. We gave them enormous powers to solve this dilemma but they have failed. However, it appears they enjoy having this level of control over us while we sit by and quietly watch them fail Bermuda and Bermudians.

This is why our complacency is so dangerous. It concerns me that we keep quiet and allow the PLP to fail us with disastrous, devastating results. The PLP have proven that if they are left to their own devices, they will lead us further down the path of death and economic ruin.

I am sounding the alarm again that Bermudians need to demand the PLP make the best decisions for our future and change direction away from the public health and fiscal cliff. If we remain complacent and continue to bury our heads in the sand, we will inevitably go over the cliff with irreversible, catastrophic consequences for all of us.

– Vic Ball