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Attorney Martin George.

Chairman of the Tobago Business Chamber Martin George says the country has to find ways to “creatively and meaningfully live with the virus” and while he understands that the government must take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 it’s not enough to just shut down the economy when cases increase.

The Tobago Chamber head is once again calling for mass vaccination which he said is the key to economic recovery.

Responding almost immediately to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement of additional COVID-19 restrictions yesterday, the prominent attorney said he believes that the only way to manage the economy while navigating the health crisis is to vaccinate the majority of the population.

“The immediate solution is mass vaccination for the population, there is no other way out of the crisis without the immediate and widespread administration of the vaccine to the majority of our population so that we receive some level of herd immunity.”

He reiterated his belief that the government should prioritize Tobago as a means “to reopen the international borders faster” while the rest of the country gets vaccinated. He said the economy is now at a critical stage and it’s not enough for the government to resort to shutting down the country every time there is an increase in cases.

He added the government should be prepared to do what it must to ensure that vaccines come into the country. He referred to India which is being assisted by the United States.

“This is not a situation where we can no longer stand on false pride if we have to beg for vaccines let us beg. India has begged for vaccines and they have gotten, then we need to start begging if that’s the case, we need to start begging for vaccines because without vaccination there is no solution.”

The Tobago Business Chamber head used the United States as an example of a success story saying after the US embarked on a massive vaccination drive the economy grew by 6.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2021.

“You cannot just simply remain on a restrictive lockdown mode alone, we have to be more proactive and find ways to preserve livelihoods while preserving lives. We have to find a way to manage the economy while managing the health crisis.”

Locally, George said people are suffering from tremendous “pandemic fatigue, depression and frustration” as jobs losses will now increase. He said to react by locking down every time COVID-19 cases rise cannot be the long term solution.

George called on the government to become solution-oriented.