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Take nation into your confidence

Image: Halden Krog © The Times

As with most things in our country, the debate on whether or not government should reopen the economy has deeply divided the nation.

The divisions are, to a degree, influenced by race and politics more so than credible data on the behaviour of the coronavirus Covid-19 in recent weeks.

Almost two months ago when the government decided to shut down the economy, that decision enjoyed widespread public support and consensus.

We understood that it was to help slow down the spread of Covid-19 while allowing authorities to prepare the capacity of out healthcare to respond adequately.

As the economic impact of the lockdown began to hit home, public support for the lockdown has begun to wane.

Be it over the flip flopping on the cigarette ban, for example, the inconsistency of the messaging and a lack of transparency on the basis of decisions made by the national command council, the government can no longer be ignorant of the groundswell against the lockdown in its current form.

Many who are frustrated at the loss of income and civil liberties have begun to question the logic of continuing any longer with the lockdown, albeit slightly eased, when it appears to not have slowed down the rise in infections across the land.

The truth is no-one can say with certainty how rapidly this virus would have spread had there not been physical restrictions as we have seen under the lockdown to limit the movement of people.

Therefore, to dismiss the lockdown as not having worked completely is foolish.

What we need now is to hold a sensible conversation about how to open up the economy while minimising the rate and impact of infections.

Such a conversation needs the government to be transparent about the data and projections on which it bases its decisions.

No decisions made from thereon will be suitable and accepted by all.

However, it needs to be decisions that prioritise the wellbeing of the most vulnerable.

We owe it to ourselves not to allow for such a crucial conversation to be trapped in and defined by the all too familiar prisms of political populism.

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