With the spread of the COVID-19 virus showing no sign of leaving the world any time soon it is probably premature to talk or think of life after it is gone.
It appears that the necessary and common sense restrictions on gathering has slowed the infection rate and by extension the death rate. But as soon as these restrictions are lifted in stages the number of cases again rise. It has happened in S. Korea, Singapore and lately in China.
It will be interesting to see the results in Europe. In Barbados we have relaxed the 24/7 curfew we had to 8pm to 5am. The next 2 weeks will tell us if it was premature. It is a hard balance between halting the spread and getting back to work, or just being able to go outside and socialise.
The human animal evolved as a social animal and to try to change this for any period of time will not work. You can modify it but not stop the need to be in groups or tribes.
I think that we in the Caribbean have found it more difficult not to socialise on buses, streets, shops and everywhere we congregate than those accustomed to life in big cities. There it is considered rude to make eye contact with a stranger. That is not the Caribbean way. We get on a bus and immediate join in any conversation with everyone.
For me I have noticed the enforced change when I go into shops or businesses where all the social interaction no longer applies. I hope that returns soon as that is what makes us one people.
The economic fallout from the virus will be worse for the Caribbean than the actual sickness. We depend on Tourism in all forms and I do not see that getting back to levels of 2019 for many years to come. For the next 12 months it will be down about 85%. To survive we are going to have to be creative in the ways we make a living.
But it need not be all gloom and doom. Already we have seen a drastic fall in the levels of greenhouses gases and pollution from planes, cars and other nor-renewable sources. Indian carbon dioxide emissions fell 15% in March, and are likely to have fallen by 30% in April. This trend is repeated across the developed world.
If this trend can continue maybe those us who are still around will enjoy a cleaner and cooler climate.
For the past 300 years the West Indies have sold our valuable raw materials, at a price set by the buyer, to industrial countries for refining. We then re-imported the finished product, at a price dictated by the seller. I am referring to Bauxite, Oil, Sugar, Cotton, Bananas etc.
We need to start processing our food products and minerals locally and not relying on importing.
The tourist industry uses our beaches and calm waters to make untold billions which never see the central banks of the islands. The tax payers in Barbados build hotels which are run by international companies who only remit just enough to pay local wages but the profits are in some other country. Then the European Union says that we are a tax haven! The cruise ships dump pollutants in our sea and buy our precious water at a very low price.
This is a once in a 100 year opportunity for the Caribbean politicians and business leaders to unite and set new rules. If only they have the long term vision and desire.
We need to get together and increases the cost of water to cruise ships to the same across all of the islands and increase the head tax to a standard one across the islands. The days of divide and rule should be over. The hotels and cruise liners are very good at that.
Some cruise lines will withdraw but those that remain will contribute more to our foreign exchange. So let those who want to go do so!
In 100 years’ time when historians discuss the early 2020’s no doubt that 2020 to 2022 will be shown as a downturn. But if we think and plan carefully the next 100 years can see good times for us. Maybe then we can think about a union.
On the individual level use this enforced time away from work to study one of the many on-line courses available. The internet is full advice on how to make anything. Take that hobby or part time business and make it grow into your main income.
COVID19 is going to be the cause of much suffering for years after the vaccine is found. If the opportunity is taken this can be the start of good times for the C-Generation. Do not let them down.