By Kevon Browne
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The transition from the after-effects of isolation and the shutdown of the industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to economic and social normalcy presents opportunities for economic growth and innovation of societal norms.
During the July 28 broadcast of ‘Leadership Matters”, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris highlighted the number of business ventures that came about as a result of COVID-19. The production of masks by locals to supplement the demand for masks during the height of the pandemic and the local production by the Carib Brewery (St. Kitts & Nevis) Limited of hand sanitizers donated to Government and private institutions are a few of the new manufacturing areas being introduced into the local market.
The seemingly successful opening of other sectors within the economy has led to a focus on the education of our students and the reinvigoration of tourism, our main industry, despite growing concerns of the state of the US in relation to COVID-19.
“The only industry not yet fully engaged is the tourism industry. The summer period traditionally has been the slow period for tourism in our country. Arrivals this year are down not just because the borders are closed but because the source markets: The United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Caribbean region have reduced demand for travel on account of COVID-19 and the consequential health risk and reduced income of potential travelers” said Prime Minister Harris.
A plan has been outlined for the careful reopening of the tourism sector.
The ministry of tourism is working with the task force at the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC), St. Christopher Air & Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA), Nevis Air & Sea Ports Authority (NASPA) and taxi operators to fine-tune protocols for the eventual opening of the tourism sector.
The implementation of the mandatory geo-fencing tracking app poses an interesting way to track visitors as a tool for risk management. But, logistically, how would it work, especially in relation to visitor contact with residents? Another interesting question was brought up later about the inner workings of the tracking app and how it would work for visitors or students who do not have local cellular services.
Prime Minister Harris responded to the questions by saying that the app is still being developed.
Speaking of innovation and modernization, how will the education system facilitate the new norm while still guaranteeing sound educational instruction? After the lockdown of all schools at the next cabinet meeting, the government will be briefed by the NEOC task force about the revised protocols for the reopening of schools in September of this year. With over 15,000 students, from early childhood to the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College, in need of educational instruction for the next school year, the protocols to be put in place would need to accommodate all students from all walks of life.
We look forward to the dissemination of the new protocols and the plan for enforcement.
As Prime Minister Harris called it, we will be facing the worst economic recession in a lifetime. How will the plans for the educational systems be affected by the possibility of a global recession? Hopefully, these questions and more will be answered in the next cabinet meeting.
The current changes to the tourism and other business sectors and the education sector pose the potential to push these sectors to another level or be bogged down by the upheaval of inadequacies within each sector. Implementation, enforcement, and acceptance are critical to making these new norms work efficiently.