Editorial comment – Not out of the woods yet

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama while announcing the easing of COVID restrictions on Sunday, October 10, 2021. Picture: FIJIAN GOVERNMENT

The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made a number of important announcements on Sunday.

He announced the easing of health restrictions that were enforced in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 cases from April this year.

He also announced the relaxing of curfew hours and the opening of movement for fully vaccinated people to the Northern Division.

Mr Bainimarama said all businesses, workplaces including public transportation could operate at 80 per cent capacity to children and fully vaccinated adults and the only exceptions to this relaxation were taverns, bars, and gaming venues.

He said a new set of protocols would be announced on November 11 to allow these venues to safely re-open to fully vaccinated individuals.

Mr Bainimarama said travel to other islands would still be maintained under the current protocols and easing of restrictions would be implemented once there was an increase in the rate of vaccination.

Contact sports could start and funerals, weddings, birthdays and other events could be held outdoors without restrictions on the number in attendance. Indoor venues, however, could operate at 80 per cent capacity, and everyone at the event must be fully vaccinated.

This is a positive development. It means we are going back to some semblance of normality.

It means a rise in foot traffic.

That subsequently means perhaps a return to work for more people.

The roll-on effect would be a slow change in economic activity.

Well, that’s the ideal scenario.

That’s what we would be hoping for.

Far too many people have lost their jobs.

Far too many are working on reduced hours and far too many have had massive pay cuts.

Any indication of a return to normality will no doubt be embraced with enthusiasm.

But there is a reason we still have some restrictions.

We still have the virus here.

And it’s already in the community.

Our challenge is to adhere to every safety rule given by our health experts.

We can’t just jump into living a dangerous lifestyle.

By now we all know the rules.

We know the safety measures that must remain in place.

We also know the risks of a third wave.

We know the impact of catching the virus and we know that it is dangerous and can kill people.

Remember, there have been 653 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 651 of these deaths during the second wave alone.

This number is far too high and reflects on how we responded to the second wave.

Too many families lost loved ones in the second wave.

So let’s challenge ourselves.

Let’s keep the rules, and follow them to keep ourselves safe.

Let’s protect our vulnerable section of the community.

That includes our children.

We can be happy about the relaxing of rules after so many months of very strict measures.

But let’s remind ourselves that we are not out of the woods yet.

Stay on course Fiji!

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