The COVID-19 pandemic has caused world leaders to take action in saving lives and protecting the livelihood of their citizens on an unimaginable scale.
In the Caribbean, countries have gone through or going through a lockdown or curfew phase to help contain the virus. Public health measure responses are along similar lines at different intervals for every country with the direction of professional bodies such as the World Health Organisation.
COVID-19 lockdown and curfews do not come without criticism. Despite the effectiveness of restrictions, there has been arguments throughout the Caribbean region that the freedom of people is being eroded. Individuals are missing out on their routine activities. Businesses and industries are stifling. Children are lacking physical interaction with their peers and teachers… These are just some of the sentiments echoed by some individuals.
MJS & Associates takes a look at what restrictions and living with COVID-19 mean for economies. The immediate question that world leaders must answer is what is the exact way to handle COVID-19 which in fact came with absolutely no blueprint. We are talking about a customized public health response for the need of every country.
Take for instance, the Government that implements a health measure response that result in zero or very low active COVID-19 cases. This particular country would be in a better position to bounce back from an economic fall out in a shorter time oppose to experiencing widespread community transmission.
The Government that decides to “co-exist” with the virus and ended up with a severe outbreak will have a greater delay in recovering the economy.
Widespread transmission will instill fear among people which will affect consumer spending. GDP will drop significantly no doubt. A matter of fact such event can result in major damages such as business and bank failures and an internal recession.
The country that manages to keep the virus cases low is better able to handle new or cluster of cases. This means that there would be better control and a greater opportunity of recovering an economy more quickly.
Balancing economies and containing COVID-19 is not an easy task. It requires some compromising. The reoccurrence of the virus is another dilemma. Until a vaccine arrives to stop the spread, COVID-19 will remain a constant struggle.
Whatever strategy countries take, the reality is that time is of great significance to recover economies. The length of time to manage the virus is paramount. Finances are being depleted with time. The need to find a vaccine is urgent.
In the meantime, it is the public health measure response that result in low to zero cases that will give individuals confidence. Lifting lockdown and curfews to restore freedom do not necessarily contribute to the restoration of confidence to grow economies. This will be seen in the behavior of consumer spending before and after health measure restrictions.
Time means everything in dealing with COVID-19. Whatever strategy is used to hedge against COVID-19, one thing is certain is that fear does not help or grow an economy.