By Orville Williams
Bemoaning the ‘unfairness’ of the new Covid-19 safety restrictions that went into effect last evening, a petition has been launched online, calling for the restrictions to be eased on vaccinated persons and businesses that are compliant with the appropriate regulations.
In response to the rapidly rising infections in the country, the government last Wednesday announced that the nightly curfew would be tightened to 8 pm to 5 am, down from 11 pm to 5 am, and ordered bars and gyms completely closed.
Restaurants have also been told to revert to takeout service; social gatherings have been cut to a maximum 10 persons; and church services are restricted to a maximum 25 persons, all for an initial two weeks and applicable to all residents and visitors.
However, according to the organiser of the petition – named only as “Calbert F” – vaccinated persons should instead be afforded a continued 11 pm curfew.
The petition also calls for the reopening of restaurants and bars, “with a maximum capacity determined by the Ministry of Health [exclusively for] vaccinated individuals at any given time”, and the reopening of gyms “with a maximum capacity of 10 vaccinated individuals at any given time”.
This petition is just the latest act of expression from a section of the society that believes the “good” has too long had to suffer for the “bad”, as the vaccinated continue to be indirectly affected by the actions of those who remain hesitant or completely opposed to taking the vaccines.
It is not likely to be the last either, as this particular petition has been receiving support from some in the business community who agree with the proposed concessions.
“I definitely think it’s something the government needs to consider. Covid-19 isn’t going to disappear, it’s going to be a part our lives for many years to come [and] unvaccinated people are obviously more at risk,” said General Manager of the Energie Gym in English Harbour, Gary Wood.
“It’s only reasonable that there are tighter restrictions for unvaccinated people to make sure that they stay as safe as possible. [For] vaccinated people, yes there is still a risk, but it’s the closest thing we have and we need to use it to regain our day-to-day lives.”
Wood also spoke on the high cost of adhering to the various regulations over the past year, but said this recent shutdown has more importantly brought the plight of their staff, who have also been suffering financially, back to the forefront.
Meanwhile, Alex Grimley, the owner of Sheer Rocks and Catherine’s Café – which together employ dozens of workers – said it is not fair for unvaccinated persons to demand equal benefits when they pose a greater risk to themselves and others.
“There is always a part of me that feels you shouldn’t force anyone to do something they don’t want to, but at the same time I would strongly encourage everyone to get the vaccine because that is the only way we’re going to stop the restaurants having to be opened and closed constantly.”
He, too, lamented the impact of the ‘abrupt’ changes on business, following a relatively successful period over the past two months.
Another gym operator, Jolly Harbour’s Donny Roseau, told Observer the financial impact to his gym was more alarming than any threat posed by Covid.
He said while he understands the need to take precautions to protect the vulnerable population, he questioned the evidence behind the decision to shut down the industry once again.
On this evidence, the dissatisfaction expressed by those who feel they are being ‘forced’ to take the vaccines could easily be matched by the growing discontent of those who are on the opposite side, advocating for the vaccinations.
The government has repeatedly pointed to herd immunity as the point where things are likely to return to normal, but it could yet be compelled to give some concessions in the interim, so the good does not continue to suffer for the bad.
At the time of writing, the petition – titled ‘Ease of restrictions for the Vaccinated and Compliant Businesses’ – on the Avaaz platform, had gathered just over 100 signatures.