Stepwise Reopening

Editorial

Mauritians impatient to get back to as normal a life as possible will no doubt be relieved that as from July 1st there is going to be further lifting of restrictions that had been imposed during the ongoing pandemic. This will allow the resumption of several sectors of activities where the public usually mingle in large numbers for both work, educational, shopping and recreational activities. The list includes bazaars and open markets, prayer meetings, attendance at funerals, celebration of marriages and other occasions, eating in restaurants, going to the beach, opening of gyms, of crèches, etc.

Importantly, the tourism sector will start operating with tourists allowed to come in but will have to remain within the hotel precincts for a 14-day quarantine, after which they will be allowed to go out. Factories also will open.

All these activities will have to be undertaken under conditions that have been specified, and an appeal has been made by the Prime Minister and Ministers who intervened afterwards for cooperation on the part of the population, calling upon their sense of responsibility at individual and collective levels – that is, towards their fellow citizens. Two important points have been emphasized:

  1. Covid is here to stay;
  2. The need to continue observing sanitary measures which are known to all by now.

Along with vaccination that is ongoing, the return to quasi-normal lifestyle should come about without any hitch – but gradually and in a controlled manner. This is the pattern that has been followed by all countries and we are no different.

As regards vaccines, at the beginning of July the country will receive a further 500,000 doses of Sinopharm, and shortly this will be topped by the arrival of 70,000 doses of Sputnik vaccine. Online registration for vaccination has been proceeding apace, but here we must make an appeal to the authorities regarding the policy of putting workers who have not been vaccinated as yet to be put on leave without pay. This sounds somewhat unfair, because their vaccination status – assuming they are willing – will depend on when they are given a slot to get the jab, which in turn depends on availability and logistic deployment at the vaccination centres. It is a fact that in certain places people who have lined up for hours have at the end been told there is no vaccine and they will have to come back. This issue will have to be looked into. As we have repeatedly said since the Covid pandemic started, accurate and proper communication is absolutely essential so as to avoid people being subjected to additional stress. There is enough tension as it is.

Another important aspect has been highlighted by the DCP Krishna Jhugroo. Given the expansion of activities, it will be impossible for police to be present everywhere, and this means therefore that people must fully assume their responsibility especially where crowds will gather to strictly observe sanitary measures, in particular social distancing and wearing of masks. There will be helicopter surveillance in addition to hotlines being available for the public to call and signal any problem. He has reminded that if any sanctions are taken, the person concerned faces the possibility not only of heavy fines but also imprisonment, as has happened to one individual who is currently in jail. He added that the police would prefer that such situations forcing them to take sanctions be avoided by all responsible citizens.

The overall message therefore can be summed up as: Better be safe than sorry, so that we all begin to enjoy the kind life we have been sorely missing.


* Published in print edition on 25 June 2021

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