Kaieteur News- The decision of the government to allow a quota of 6,000 persons to attend the cricket matches is mind-boggling. Even more perplexing is the targeting of Trinidadians, in the COVID-19 regulations published recently.
Reports in the media indicate that the government is allowing fully vaccinated persons to attend the 3 T20 cricket matches to be hosted in Guyana and featuring the West Indies and Pakistan on July 31, August 1 and August 3.
This is a crazy decision. To allow as many as 6,000 persons into a single venue, at a time when the pandemic is still raging, is simply incomprehensible.
Many of the matches in Euro 2020 were hosted in empty stadiums in Europe even though the host countries have a greater percentage of their populations vaccinated than Guyana. The Tokyo Olympics is playing to empty stadiums even though the number of new infections per capita in Japan is far less than what is occurring in Guyana. In fact, Japan’s per capita death rate of more than five times lower than Guyana and its infections per every million of its population is almost five times less than Guyana’s.
It would be interesting to know what metric formula the Guyana government used to decide to arrive at the decision to permit 40 percent attendance maximum for the cricket matches. It would be even more interesting to know on whose advice this decision was made.
Cricket matches, involving the West Indies, have all much lowered the COVID-19 infection and death rates because only limited spectators were allowed to see the matches at some venues, not all.
When it comes to the pandemic, fortune does not favour the brave. And the government of Guyana has taken not a brave but a reckless decision to allow spectators at the matches, and at a time when the rate of infections remains high.
While it is true that active cases are falling in Guyana, the positivity rate remains alarmingly high and in excess of 10 percent which is a measure of inadequate levels of testing. Therefore, the real number of cases may be far higher than what the numbers suggest.
The number of persons dying spiked a few months ago and has been declining but it still way too high for comfort. In fact, the total number of persons who have died this month is far higher than December 2020, January 2021 and February 2021 combined.
Active cases are declining. But are still more than three times higher than they were on January 4 of this year when the present surge began. And at that time, no public events were being allowed.
Fully vaccinated spectators will be allowed up to a quota of 40 percent of the National Stadium’s 15,000 capacity. Therefore, as many as 6,000 have the opportunity to watch the matches.
While as many as 6,000 can now assemble for each of the matches, the emergency regulations prohibit a few dozen persons from attending the cinemas or from going to the creek or from going to wedding reception or even a wake.
But if the hosting of the cricket matches was not cause enough for surprise, imagine the shock to read reports that persons travelling from Trinidad and Tobago, except children, will be required to be fully vaccinated. This requirement has been instituted as part of the civil aviation safety regulations.
Why has Trinidad and Tobago been singled out for such special treatment? Surely, if Guyana wants to protect its citizens from imported cases of the coronavirus, a stronger case can be made out for similar impositions on persons from the United States, India, Britain, Brazil, Colombia and Indonesia, which are all experiencing a surge of cases. And in the Caribbean, Jamaica has a far greater number of cases and deaths than Guyana.
It would appear that this regulation, by being aimed specifically at persons travelling from Trinidad and Tobago, is discriminatory and therefore in breach of Guyana’s treaty obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. No special case has been established to justify this measure.
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago should retaliate and demand that any Guyanese landing on its soil, whether transit or disembarking, should be fully vaccinated. As for the cricket, the West Indies Cricket Board should reconsider bringing any matches to a country, which since January has failed to make any meaningful impact on the pandemic.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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