Wed | Jul 8, 2020

Letter of the Day | Was the shutdown worth it?

Published:Saturday | May 30, 2020 | 12:00 AM


WAS THE partial shutdown of Jamaica due to COVID-19 really worth it? It has cost tens of thousands of jobs and has negatively impacted the economy.

It is a most difficult and controversial question to ponder for which I won’t claim to have the right answer.

I will state, however, that prudence, or whatever makes good sense, should take precedence over sentiments. I deem as prudence any and all efforts directed towards the protection, preservation, and prolongation of life. And, given the choice, I would prefer to go broke than die because one can ‘wheel and come again’.

I empathise and can sympathise with the hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans who have been hit hard by these restrictions.

There is no doubt that there were missteps, mistakes, and blunders as we navigated into uncharted waters. But we have done fairly well so far, compared to what has happened in countries like the USA, Italy, and the UK. The potential of COVID-19 to overwhelm remains; hence, there is no need for complacency.

The shutdown of the tourism sector by the Government’s intervention was in accordance with the effects of a global downward trend in commercial flights and cruise lines. The undeniable reality is that without restrictions being imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus, the uncontrolled community spread would have resulted in an unavoidable and unregulated economic shutdown.

Undesirable Consequences

This is because no one is immune (in every sense of the word), and given its high mortality rate, we could have had thousands of deaths, including public- and private-sector workers, managers, and business owners. The disruption from workers getting infected, even with a mild form of the disease, and being off from work for at least two weeks, or the rapid spread among workplaces, like the Alorica call centre case, should be more than sufficient evidence that without the imposed restrictions, we would have had an inevitably chaotic shutdown of the economy with far more undesirable consequences.

It is also not inconceivable, but very much possible, that a number of harsh critics, this writer, and you, the reader, are alive today because of the public education, restrictions, and the resulting partial shutdown of the Jamaican economy.