Economically and socially, Bermuda is literally at a fork in the road, and the path that we choose may result in survival for some or devastation for many. After a thorough assessment of the ravages of the pandemic, what is left behind is significant economic and social scarring that if not addressed, will continue to deteriorate what is left of Bermuda if not addressed immediately. Given the positive status of our current Covid statistics, the economy must reopen now.
Why? Because after more than a year of lockdowns, curfews, restrictions, vaccinations, non-vaccinations, mask wearing and social distancing, as a country we are left with significant social and economic scarring. Tomorrow may be too late to reopen Bermuda’s Economy. The restrictions must be lifted now as many Bermudians and businesses cannot survive one more day and the wedge that has developed between those who have been vaccinated and those who chose not to, is only widening.
The truth is, on this small island, there are two Bermudas: the first is the vaccinated verses the non-vaccinated. We acknowledge that tens of millions of dollars were spent by Government for economic and social support and, that through the country’s vaccination program, we are now seeing lower numbers of those developing Covid-19. We are also fully cognizant that we were waiting to achieve the 70% herd immunity to fully reopen, but this may not happen. Those who want to be vaccinated have been vaccinated, and those who prefer not to be vaccinated have made their position very clear and we respect these decisions and move forward together without prejudice.
Secondly, there is the legacy of stunted education for thousands of the islands school children, huge job losses, the massive $3.5 billion dollar debt level in government and the rising debt in the private sector, cannot be denied and only widens the inequalities faced in Bermuda.
No one can argue that we are still feeling the effects of the devastation of our tourism product as the much-needed cruise ship industry is staying away from our shores in droves. The cost of healthcare has increased at a time when we can ill-afford increases, restaurants and the wellness industry have also suffered significant damage along with the many Bermudians who have been let go from their positions or replaced since the pandemic began.
Conversely, certain sectors have thrived throughout the pandemic. IT the digital industry sector, real estate, international reinsurance and financial services industry and its employees continued their way of life, and in some cases thrived with very little impact.
To move forward in unison, the pandemic restrictions must be lifted now, today, immediately. As I have been advised, many individuals and businesses are on their last breath and government concessions are barely enough to keep the lights on and pay the taxes.
We must stop and try our best to reduce and eliminate Covid’s economic scarring. We must bridge the divides between our vaccinated and non-vaccinated, the employed and unemployed, and Bermuda driven events versus the international events hosted in Bermuda.
Just as several of Bermuda’s recovering Covid 19 patients suffer long lasting symptoms, the same applies to our economy.