Being a leader, particularly a prime minister, is not an easy job. Our prime minister has been facing one crisis after another, from Hurricane Dorian which ravaged several of our major islands to the COVID-19 pandemic which is still here and does not appear to be going anywhere soon.
The government has received intense criticism as several of its plans have not gone the way it intended. That criticism has been extended from both the opposition and members of the Free National Movement (FNM) alike. However, I think the prime minister has handled the COVID-19 pandemic exceptionally well. He has saved many lives, even though persons have opposed his strategies, such as the closing of the beaches over the Independence Day holiday weekend.
Closing the beaches was the right thing to do. Even Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles could see that. Some persons simply do not know how to behave and refuse to practice social distancing, so they must be treated like children. Unfortunately, the innocent must suffer with the guilty to keep The Bahamas safe and healthy.
We have all seen the partying on the beaches by now. It is as if those persons, particularly the younger ones, have no concern or regard for the novel coronavirus. All one must do is look and watch the American and international newscasts to appreciate what happens to people who do not take COVID-19 seriously. Look at what’s happening to our friends in Florida, mere miles from us, where the rate of infections is climbing to higher numbers every day. On July 11, Florida set the single day record for coronavirus cases, with at least 15,300 new cases. In addition, the state of California has recently announced that many public venues including churches, movie theaters, restaurants and bars must be closed down, impacting over 85 percent of this state’s population.
Unlike the United States, our health system cannot handle a mass outbreak. All the authorities are asking is that we wash our hands, practice social distancing and wear masks in public. How hard can that be? Instead of understanding the seriousness of this threat, people are up in arms because they cannot enjoy the beaches for a few days.
This virus has killed 11 Bahamians to date. The immense grief experienced by loved ones who have been forced to endure the pain of not being able to say goodbye to their family members, or even allowed into hospitals, is what we should care more about. Instead, we are whining because the beaches have been closed in an effort to protect the interest of the public’s health. Perhaps the persons who are complaining are the same ones who leave all their garbage behind when they visit our beaches.
The prime minister is actively attempting to balance the opening of the country while prioritizing the preservation of our nation’s safety. His decisions align with the international directives from the most respected health professionals in the world. I would much rather listen to the health professionals who are more well-versed about this virus than politicians jockeying and feeding hysteria to the public.
There is no rule book on how to handle this pandemic, just like there is no rule book on how to raise children. In the case of the former, one must trust their training and remain informed of the most up-to-date recommendations from the health experts. So far, the prime minister and his health team have done a stellar job responding to the pandemic.
I am confident that when Dr. Minnis made the decision to close the beaches, he knew “all hell was going to break loose”. However, as our prime minister, he has stayed the course, despite the repercussions including backlash from the general public. Being a leader comes with an absolute cost; true leaders are capable of making difficult decisions during difficult times. Fellow Bahamians, please do your part. Continue to social distance and wear your masks. It is the right thing to do for the safety of our country.
• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association and a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. He is also a former president of the Rotary Club of South East Nassau and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of West Nassau. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.