The Government Information Service (GIS) has issued a press release which states that the Government is expressing concern about growing disregard for COVID-19 regulations. This may sound quite hilarious to many who believe this behavior is allowed. While people are reminded that the COVID -19 regulations in respect to mandatory wearing of masks and physical distancing are still in effect and there is talk of fines, because people should not be allowed to get away with going against the regulations.
The growing disregard for the COVID-19 regulations and protocols probably began from the top with many of our leaders showing bad examples. This newspaper will one day show the doctors, politicians and police officers who wear the masks incorrectly. Then again the many videos of mass gatherings that have surfaced in recent days are said to have helped to spark concern for the nonchalant attitude that many seem to have adopted. Additionally, more and more people are now seen in public without masks and some are failing to observe the physical distancing protocol. This observation is not new by any stretch of the imagination. Yet nothing is done about it.
There have been various amendments to the COVID-19 regulations including the lifting of the curfew and granting 24-hour access to beaches. However, gatherings of more than 20 people are still prohibited, or in the case of funerals and weddings, the maximum number remains at 50. The regulations also require every person to wear a mask or suitable covering over the nose and mouth while in public, and to distance themselves at least six feet from any other person. So what if people decide to ignore the protocol? Where are the examples set that they would see that following the protocols is serious business? The Police are aware of the gatherings on Bathway Beach. The Police are in the towns and we are sure that they have seen business places where there are no hand sanitizing and workers without masks.
The call by Government to nationals to demonstrate greater responsibility for their own health and safety and that of their fellow citizens is worthwhile. Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell is of the opinion that if people are genuinely concerned about their well-being, they will follow the protocols. They should not have to be told repeatedly that it is in their best interest to wear a mask, to maintain physical distance or to refrain from mass gatherings. We are concerned over his statement that there is only so much the Government or the Police can do. It is good that he is of the realization that this fight requires an attitudinal change. There are some things during this time that are new to us and must be handled with care; but not ignored. Superintendent Vannie Curwen explained that “everyone shall wear a mask when outside of their premises.” While he said the word ‘shall’ leaves no choice, he added that it is left up to the discretion of the Police. It may have done us well to examine the material that people are using to make masks. Some of them do not allow for proper breathing as he has learnt when he was caught wearing his mask under his chin. Even the Wardens are seen out in public with their noses and mouths exposed.
Dr Mitchell also noted that Grenadians should not be lulled into complacency with the lifting of the curfew. He said that the COVID-19 Regulations remain in place and we must continue to be guided by them as long as the global pandemic continues and a vaccine is not yet developed. The lifting of the curfew grants freedom of movement but we must still be responsible as a people. The Prime Minister wants us to continue to adhere to the established protocols, particularly as our borders will reopen. Well the double signals out there are not helping in this case.
The Prime Minister urged young people in particular, not to feel invincible as he explained that some infected persons remain asymptomatic, COVID-19 affects both the young and the old. He boasted that Grenada has been relatively successful in the fight against the disease, and while we may be inclined to bask in the glory of what that success means, the fact is, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic and we cannot become complacent. The point here is that too many citizens after testing the system and having realized what they can get away with have gone ahead and relaxed the protocols. So far we have only heard of bus drivers and conductors being charged for not wearing masks.
Prime Minister Mitchell said the recommended guidelines provide the only way to limit the spread of COVID-19, therefore, as long as the disease remains a global threat, we must continue to safeguard ourselves, our families and our friends. If ever the saying, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, was applicable, it is now. Let us play our respective roles in preventing the spread of COVID-19.The cold and hard fact is that people do not respect mixed signals.