Today, Indian Arrival Day, marks the first of two public holidays which Trinidad and Tobago will be celebrating this week as it continues its rich tradition of marking the heritage of the various people who make up our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society.

However, it will be celebrated, much as those which have preceded it since march last year, under the dark shadow cast by the dreaded COVID-19 disease. Naturally, it means those members of the communities directly celebrating the occasions will be unable to operate as they are accustomed to.

Indian Arrival Day has not traditionally been one of the holidays celebrated with as much pomp and pageantry as some of the others. Still, today’s holiday and that of Corpus Christi on Thursday, will be unlike others before since they will represent the first time in which the majority of citizens will be asked to forego their freedom of movement and stay at home.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley made the call during Saturday’s COVID-19 media briefing, as he urged citizens to continue to take the harsh measures needed to curb the disease’s spread.

Citizens have become accustomed to “freeing up” themselves during such long holiday periods but the Prime Minister cautioned against taking such liberties this time with Ministry of Health experts warning against congregating, even within households.

However, given the type of behaviour recorded during the current Public Health Regulation restrictions and State of Emergency, the Government has been forced to act further by amending the curfew hours to ensure citizens are not tempted.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith yesterday explained what is permissible under the two holidays and the TTPS has implemented a mechanism which those who have emergencies can utilise. Given the scourge that the country is currently facing they should not have had to because all citizens who do not need to leave their homes to conduct essential services or access said services, accepting the dire situation in which the country finds itself, should simply stay inside.

On that note, we, therefore, find it quite disturbing that some sectors of society continue to find ways to circumvent the measures being taken when, clearly, it is meant for the benefit of all society in the long run.

In this regard, we commend the Supermarket Association of T&T for its decision to ask members not to operate on the two holidays. This, no doubt, is meant to give citizens less incentive to leave their homes and this type of forward-thinking is what is needed at this time. Unfortunately, not everyone within this sector intends to heed that call either.

There should be no need to overexplain the reasoning behind the current action, given that the COVID-19 numbers continue to give us daily, by way of deaths and numbers, the ramifications for our past transgressions. Nevertheless, it is our hope citizens will obey the overall instruction for today and Thursday so that we can continue to build on any advances made by the measures taken in the previous two weeks in the fight against COVID-19.