Prime Minister and Minister of National security, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell has identified a need to get tougher with the enforcement of Covid-19 protocols.
Dr Mitchell’s comment comes against the backdrop of persons and businesses not fully implementing or complying with the recommended protocols.
During his interview on the television programme Perspectives, Dr Mitchell said, “We have to be tougher in a general sense going forward, but we need everybody on board in dealing with this.”
The Prime Minister spoke specifically about facilities providing quarantine for returning nationals and visitors, some of which he said did not operate as agreed, thereby creating potential risks for persons. He said, “The problem of compliance extended to several quarantine facilities where persons did not demonstrate the anticipated level of responsibility, forcing Government in some instance to issue warnings.”
Dr Mitchell acknowledged that some have advocated for a full lockdown when the recent cluster was detected, but lockdown he explained, has its own its repercussions. He said, “One has to be extremely careful when you talk about limiting people’s basic freedom and rights, you must have overriding reasons to do it. I believe we were doing reasonably okay and did not see the need to create other serious problems that could emanate from lockdown.”
The Prime Minister further explained his rationale. “In dealing with this major issue, there are several dimensions that must be taken into consideration. Of course, the health issue must be number one, but you cannot get away from the social consequences of the decisions that we make because we are human beings. There are economic considerations as well because we must have resources to take care of the problems that we have, and if we cut off everything, we would not have resources and that would create another problem in the society. And clearly, there are also political considerations, because we are a multi-party democracy and therefore people have different views, so we have to be careful in taking decisions and ensuring that people understand the decisions that you make.”
Dr Mitchell also acknowledged the fluid nature of the pandemic and the need to constantly adjust. He said, “The key thing going forward is what we do when people get here so we may have to re-examine the quarantine procedures. We may have to re-examine the question of testing after four days, maybe we have to use a much longer period before we give medical clearance. It seems to me we have to re-examine our procedures and protocols and make some changes that we believe are necessary to protect the people of this country. This is a dynamic situation we are facing so we have to adjust.”
In all of this, Dr Mitchell said, while Government has a responsibility to lead the fight against Covid-19, there must be compliance and everyone must be on board fighting this dreaded disease.
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