Over the last three days, there has been an astronomical rise in COVID-19 cases locally.
In the past week, the country recorded its highest number of positive cases since the pandemic began on March 12, 2020 – between last Saturday and today the country recorded 1,537 new cases, on Friday alone there were 326 cases. This coupled with the loss of four lives in one day to the virus, 12 in one week, make recent developments with the disease alarming, worrisome, and heartbreaking.
There is no doubt something had to be done by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his government to stem the catastrophic climb in cases, which has the potential to cripple the health sector and lead to utter devastation in the country, much like what is taking place in India.
But no matter how necessary and well-intentioned the restrictions are, the fact is the livelihoods of many working-class citizens hang in the balance.
On Thursday hundreds of employees from restaurants, gyms, cinemas, spas, hairdressing salons, and customer representatives in stores located in malls, headed home with no idea how they will pay their bills and survive come May month-end.
Many small business owners, who after the lockdown imposed from April 2020, struggled to stay afloat, were literally now breaking even and eyeing a profit. They now find themselves having to start all over again.
Already many businesses in malls across the country were forced to shut permanently, sending thousands of workers on the breadline, a large majority still searching for gainful employment.
Although the lockdown measures are in place for roughly three weeks, the financial blow dealt by them is severe and will reverberate for months to come.
This is why calls from business chambers and financial experts for the government to reveal its plan to revitalize the economy and cushion the economic impact of the restrictions, must be heeded and answered.
During the last lockdown, a suite of social and economic aid initiatives was introduced to help affected citizens, which included the $131 million for the salary relief grant.
On Thursday the Prime Minister made it clear for yet another time that there may not be that much money around this time to help those in need.
He, however, stopped short of saying more and detailing what, if any, programmes would be rolled out for the thousands without jobs and cash-strapped businesses.
But the country needs more than platitudes.
Not everyone wants a handout. They want a level playing field and a chance to succeed.
What citizens are demanding now is a solid, realistic, workable financial plan to help them navigate the months ahead with COVID and beyond.
Businesses, homeowners with mortgages, tenants owing rent, citizens with personal loans all need to be told how those financial commitments will be met month-end and if they will be given a brief respite.
The strict restrictions imposed aim to preserve the lives of citizens against a virus that has mutated and with every new variant is becoming highly transmissible.
But once the population outlasts COVID-19, they need to know they can live comfortably and not succumb to financial ruin or worse...poverty.