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Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh brought relief to more citizens yesterday when he announced the reopening of a few more sectors of the country.

In particular, Minister Deyalsingh revealed that from August 16, the retail sector will be reopened, while National Lottery Control Board operations will be reopened from tomorrow.

Of course, these moves may still not be enough for the sectors of the economy which continue to be barred from operating at all or fully by the measures in place to fight off the COVID-19 virus. Indeed, citizens still have no real assurances as to whether the measures implemented now for over a year and a half will have the desired effect of allowing society to return to some semblance of normalcy within the near future.

There are, however, undeniable issues that we must battle and need to find the collective will to tackle if we are to win the overall war against this dreaded disease which continues to wreak havoc globally.

One of the issues is as with all viruses, COVID-19 is continuing to mutate and with each phase comes new and sometimes more dangerous elements which the medical fraternity is faced with.

The other main issue, of course, is that the virus thrives on the indisciplined behaviour of the population to multiply. In this regard, those of us who continue to believe that we can operate normally because we have not been inflicted by it; or are strong and healthy enough to avoid taking a vaccine presents our biggest challenge yet.

This is why Minister Deyalsingh’s announcement of how the 82,000 AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Canada last week will be used was beneficial. The equal distribution of these vaccines throughout several major vaccination sites means all citizens have access to them. Furthermore, those who had concerns about the Sinopharm jab now have another option so there is no longer any excuse for individuals not accessing these life-saving vaccines.

Data from other countries reveal that those who access the vaccines have a better chance of fighting off the more severe effects of the virus, including the Delta strain now overrunning some developed countries.

With T&T’s borders now reopened and more sectors reopening for business, it also means the virus will have the opportunity to multiply amongst the indisciplined members of the society and those who are unvaccinated.

In the face of this threat, wouldn’t the best option be to get inoculated to save lives and create an environment in which the economy can fully reopen? Some businesses unable to cope with the economic hardship of COVID’s fallout are temporarily shutting down operations or closing shop completely and the continuing loss of life and livelihoods will leave an impact for decades to come. The Government has so far resisted the urge to make vaccination mandatory for some sectors of society. In the interim, some businesses have taken the bold step of implementing what some see as punitive measures to convince their employees to vaccinate. While there may be an argument against this, we are sure that the individuals making those same arguments also prefer to have safe environments in order to preserve lives and livelihoods. So let’s just all now do the right thing.