Bahamas the

EDITORIAL: No one is immune

WE have heard often during the COVID-19 pandemic that the virus can affect anyone, rich or poor, in any part of society – and the news that both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister are self-quarantining is as sure a sign of that as you could find.

They’re not the only senior members of government in quarantine, either – Education Minister Jeff Lloyd is in quarantine despite a negative test result.

Fortunately, it appears that neither Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis nor Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest have been affected by the virus – but rather than they are seeking quarantine out of an abundance of caution. That is a caution we should all share.

But the realisation should be this – if the Prime Minister, with all the safeguards and precautions that surround him, can be at such risk that he needs to enter quarantine, then the rest of us ought to take a bit more care when we’re out and about in the food stores, or standing too close to someone else in a line, or claiming there’s no need to wear a face mask when there really is a need.

The risk of exposure in Dr Minnis’ case comes from a positive test for someone who works at the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre, which houses the Prime Minister’s office and that of the Finance Minister, Mr Turnquest. The building is being closed down and sanitised, while those who work there are being urged to quarantine as a precaution. That perhaps could be a firmer instruction rather than an encouragement – if nothing else to encourage those in the wider community to abide by the need to do so as well.

It also shows us that until the numbers are much more under control, it is a pipe dream to talk about schools opening with children in full attendance. If one case can shut down the whole Prime Minister’s office, one case in a school is going to have far more widespread impact for students, staff, teachers, parents and more. We might as well plan now for prolonged distance learning – rather than have the disruption forced upon us at short notice when a case is diagnosed.

We are glad that it appears the health of neither of our senior leaders is at risk – and we hope the best for the worker who has been diagnosed positive.

A waste of time

IF you asked for an example of how slow moving change can be in this country, you need look no further than the debate on the legalisation of marijuana. It feels like forever that we’ve been writing about the progress – or lack thereof – of the Bahamas Marijuana Commission.

As long ago as September 2018, Bishop Simeon Hall was complaining about the slow motion of the commission.

In this column in March last year, we urged the government to lay out a timescale of when it envisaged bringing legislation, and what it intended that legislation to be.

That brings us to today – with the commission saying it will be a “challenge” to decriminalise marijuana in the next two years.

Let’s be plain – that means forget about it. Nothing’s going to happen this side of an election. The commission co-chair makes some noise about the “low-hanging fruit” of medical marijuana that something could be done about – but that just shows up this nonsense for what it is. If you can legalise one, you can legalise the other – the passage of the bill will take the same length of time. So it’s not a time factor, it’s a choice. Choosing not to legalise marijuana is a perfectly valid choice – one that many will agree with, and that many others will disagree with – but don’t flim flam us with talk of it being difficult to legalise in that time period.

Meanwhile, the supposed work of the commission will go on, at a pace that a snail could comfortably outdo. And day by day, people will appear in the courts charged with a crime that might not be on the books in a couple of years or whenever the next government gets round to it.

The time has long past when a choice on legalisation should be made, so we suggest they get on with it, or stop wasting everyone’s time with idle talk.

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