Editorial comment – Encouraging news

Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport Faiyaz Koya during a news conference recently. Picture: RAMA

The revelation that COVID-19 test positivity among tourists remains low is encouraging.

Tourism Minister Faiyaz Koya confirmed this.

He reiterated Government’s position that it does not view hotels as major drivers of transmission.

Tourist arrival numbers for January, he said, had not changed.

“Most people find Fiji a wonderful destination to come to,” Mr Koya said.

“And we must also remember that our economy is starting to just get back on track somewhat within the tourism industry.

“And I think everybody needs to realise that everybody has a part to play.

“Heavy-handed” policies used in the past, he stressed, would not be revisited. Fiji, he believes, can have a functioning economy while respecting basic rules to keep us safe.

“We can continue to rely on the excellent protection offered by vaccines and we can strengthen that protection by administering booster doses, as we are doing.

“The time for lockdowns — targeted or otherwise — and other heavy-handed policies is past.

“From a health and economic standpoint, such measures would be self-defeating.”

It is a major shift from how we addressed the pandemic in 2020 and when the second wave struck us in April last year.

Mr Koya said test positivity among tourists remained low.

For whatever it is worth, this is encouraging news.

It will no doubt inch out positive vibes and obviously assist in driving the domestic economy.

Any effort to maintain some movement in the local economy will no doubt be welcomed by everyone.

It ensures more people as opposed to last year, are able to earn some money to put food on their table.

It ensures there is some movement in various sectors of business connected somehow to the tourism industry.

This is good news for the country.

The harsh reality on the ground though is that thousands of Fijians are still impacted badly by the pandemic.

They still haven’t found employment, and are still wondering what their next meal would be.

Many are still on massive pay cuts, and many are forced to work reduced hours.

We will look up to the powers that be to consider all this and put in place measures that will assist affected Fijians.

We also remember the very high number of Fijians who died in the second wave.

We remember their families and the rather harsh and uncompromising rules, because of COVID-19, they had to follow when farewelling their loved ones.

We also acknowledge the work that is being done behind the scenes by good Samaritans to assist those impacted with food rations and other forms of help.

While Mr Koya offers us encouraging news, we still have to consider the bigger picture.

So let’s continue to fight this pandemic by adhering to safety measures.

We know what must be done.

We know why we have to follow the rules and we know how we can protect our loved ones.

Our challenge is to do the right thing, and look up to the powers that be, to make the right calls!

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