Letters & Opinion

Grenada to lift COVID restrictions, so what are we waiting for?

By Angus Jones

Grenada’s Minister of Health recently made a statement which may not have been widely circulated, but which I felt was important to share, as that country has now given a very clear indication of when it hopes to follow the lead of many nations in Europe and remove all COVID restrictions.

During a press conference earlier this week, Minister of Health Nickolas Steele declared that based on the current trends, Grenada could be looking at removing most, if not all of its COVID restrictions, including those on travel, by April. This just days after Grenada announced plans to allow travellers to use antigen tests to enter the country (24 hours) and lifted many restrictions on gatherings for vaccinated persons.

That sends a very powerful message not only to its citizens, but to the business community and very importantly, to the travelling public, as well as stakeholders such as airlines, travel agents and hotels.

It is no secret that the travel and hospitality sector in Grenada has probably suffered more than many other islands because of inconsistencies with its travel protocols, and the impact of that has clearly not been lost on the government.

Therefore, when Grenada, which has held a tight rein for so long, now decides it’s time to get on with it, as we have seen done in the UK, France and number of other European countries, then I urge all other Caribbean leaders and CMOs to wake up and smell the coffee.

What Grenada has done is provide what many other Caribbean countries are failing to do – and that is clarity and fixed deadlines, and I daresay they have learnt their lesson the hard way.

Clarity and ease of mind are critical to any traveller who plans their vacation and spend their money; it’s possibly the most important thing. So, after two years of constantly bring drilled with COVID information and misinformation, I think by now most people in the world are pretty much ‘au current’ with the trend of this virus and with what the Science is now suggesting, while no one can predict the future, the Science is saying that we can begin taking steps to live with COVID – we have no choice.

This a brave but (I think) necessary step by the officials in Grenada, and I certainly look forward to the day I can visit one of my favourite islands once more, without the hassle of authorizations, tests and all the baggage that comes with pandemic travel.

The Grenada Health Minister also made another comment which may have passed by casually and was missed by many, but which carries a much deeper meaning. Defending why he felt people still needed to wear masks for the time being, Minister Steele noted that, ‘While Omicron is still around us, we will always be seeing cases of COVID 19 in Grenada for two reasons: One, this virus is ENDEMIC; but more specifically because of our low rate of vaccination.”

Whether consciously or not, the Minister has started referring to COVID as ‘endemic’ rather than ‘pandemic’, which in essence means that they feel it can be managed among a community of people rather than worrying that it will spread uncontrollably like before.

This is in line with a campaign spearheaded by Spain which is calling on world governments to start tackling COVID-19 now like any other endemic respiratory virus like the seasonal flu.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said recently that his government is working with the scientific community to shift from ‘managing a pandemic to managing a disease, which we hope Science will now reclassify as an endemic illness.’

Similarly, the UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that citizens ‘must learn to live with COVID’ in a similar way to the seasonal flu. It’s heartening then; to see at least one Caribbean country is actually keeping-up with the Science, rather than just saying it does.

We have endured enough pain not only in terms of our health, but economically, mentally and socially. It is now time to reclaim our lives and Our Planet from this socially abhorrent invader.

Again, hats off to Grenada!

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