Gradually, Belizeans are beginning to move about as they did before the lockdown in April, and the activities of almost everyone are directed toward earning money to put bread on the table and pay their other bills. We are now able to do almost everything we did before the lockdown, except for drinking at the bars and carousing at the nightclubs, and playing contact sports. Those too will come in time, if we keep our country COVID-19 free.
We should be grateful for small mercies. Other countries have had and are having a much rougher time with the disease than we’ve had, although we are all suffering financially. At home and all about us there is severe economic pain, but our country’s foundations remain strong, and we can build again if we keep the faith and work hard.
Despite there being no reported cases of COVID-19 in the country for seven weeks, schools have remained closed. Efforts by the Ministry of Education to provide programs for students while they are at home are insufficient, but we don’t know of anyone who is complaining about the doors of the schools being locked, because closing the schools helped immensely to stop the disease, and because at this time just about everyone is zeroed in on our economic survival.
A number of people mocked the authorities when they insisted that we maintain physical distancing of six feet when we are out in public places, while at the same time allowing public travel on buses and water taxis. That criticism was unfair, and those who complained deserve to be rapped on their knuckles.
The authorities made an exception because it was necessary, urgent, to allow people to go to work so they could earn money to buy bread to put on the table for their families. At the time the restrictions on travel were eased, there were no reported cases of COVID-19 in the country, and after studying the risks the authorities decided that such travel would be reasonably safe if commuters were extra careful for the hour or two they were on the buses or water taxis.
It is so disappointing to hear reports that some people are disregarding the rule that face masks must be worn when we are traveling on public buses and water taxis. Maybe some commuters would prefer to cycle or paddle to their destinations. We are not being asked to wear face masks when we are traveling on buses and water taxis; it’s an order.
Most restrictions on hotels/tourist destinations have been relaxed, and in the interim, while the country waits for the authorities to reopen the borders and let the visitors in, whatever number of them might be eager to come and enjoy our shores, we are being encouraged to become tourists in our country. This is a time when those of us who have an extra dollar to spend must buy products and services that are made in Belize/provided in Belize.
The owners of the high-priced resorts tried to get a share of the local market, but they soured on it quickly, explaining that it is better for them to remain closed because we just don’t have the money to make it worth their while. Their businesses are designed for high-end tourists, people with foreign currency who come to splurge without any worry about tomorrow.
It’s a pity that most of us don’t have the cash to help sustain these enterprises until good times return for them.
The relaxation of restrictions should be of some help to hotels/tourist destinations that cater to visitors who don’t have wads of cash to spend. Many of such establishments are Belizean-owned, and with proper marketing they just might get sufficient throughput to keep them afloat until the travellers of the world are allowed to experience our beautiful country again.
The entertainment industry is still under heavy restrictions; bars and nightclubs have not been allowed to reopen. We’d have to be hopeful indeed if we expected patrons of bars and nightspots to observe physical distancing rules, wear face masks, and not get too friendly, intimate, or boisterous. We don’t think that the authorities deliberated very long before declaring that such establishments will have to remain shuttered for some time yet.
The restrictions have also been eased to allow for our restaurants and fast food businesses to get going again. Since our economy is not firing on all cylinders, and many of us are struggling just to cover our basic needs, for some time a great day’s sales for this group won’t be more than half the loaf they would have made just a few months ago. However, in these tough days of COVID-19, we are happy just to get by.
There is so much for us to be grateful for, so many blessings we can count, and keeping in that vein, we must be thankful that our government hasn’t fallen apart, because COVID-19 hit us when we were at a very low point. Our economy was stagnating, and the party in power, the UDP, includes numerous members who might have been in our country’s penitentiary, if our present leader, who is constitutionally barred from seeking our highest office again, hadn’t concluded that corruption is a vice that will always be with us.
After this discovery by the watchdog of our country, it followed naturally that transparent and accountable governance, which exposes dishonesty, isn’t worth the effort.
Our disappointing party in power had just gone to a convention to choose a new leader, and after all the money they spent, and getting the result they wanted, it was a dud. In regards to the one they rejected, resoundingly, they must know why they didn’t want him, and the one they elected, overwhelmingly, was found to have “campaign financiers” that included a man responsible for one of the most heinous crimes in the history of our country, and also a convicted international racketeer, so shortly after being crowned he had to bow out.
The present government is the description of lame duck. They have not come up with any new programs/projects to give us hope, and that’s a national disaster; however, thus far they have held our half-loaf together, prevented us from falling apart, and that’s a blessing we must be grateful for.