Name: Shawn Maile
Location: Antigua & Barbuda
As I stare out my office window there is a visible lack of activity that is customary at this time of the day. The silence of the area is deafeningly quiet. The absence of the melodies from the music lessons that operate in the corner is entirely absent. The steady stream of parents dropping off their children for music lessons is nonexistent. This all due to the early closure of schools for the Easter vacation here in Antigua.
As the reality that this virus has/is bringing life as we know it to a grinding stop is somewhat bittersweet. Bitter in the sense that from where I sit companies are already being forced to reduce hours and close their doors. What then of workers who are not able to gain an income to provide for their families. Though I have seen communications that the regional governments are looking to mitigate the effects of the virus on businesses and employees via moratoriums, reductions or eliminations; individuals still have to provide for their families.
The streets of St. John’s are visibly quieter. Morning traffic is significantly less congested though parking still remains a challenge but I digress. Commerce continues as banks; insurance companies and other non-direct tourism-related entities remain open. But for how long. If the island and by extension the Caribbean is “closed for business” for 90 days what will become of our businesses?
As a tourism entrepreneur as well, the effects of Covid-19 are already being felt. Two cancellations this week and no bookings for the foreseeable future. This poses a great challenge for a company that relies directly on visitor arrivals. The domino effect will be catastrophic if we are to close our borders for extended periods at a time when visitor arrivals are already low.
The sweet comes as I am forever and always will be an eternal optimist. My optimism here is in the fact that once the worst is behind us, individuals will be traveling in droves as they seek to shake their “cabin fever”. Vacations will be rebooked (providing persons are still able to take vacations from their jobs) and there will be a resultant boom going into the new tourist season. If the islands in the Caribbean can mitigate the spread of this economy crushing disease then the region should be in a place to bounce back rather quickly.
Maybe then we will have the islands of the Caribbean revamping the sun, sea and sand mantra as not only a marketing tool but as a haven for wellness and resilience.
Please share your #QuarantinedCaribbean stories with us. Have you lost your job? Are you now doing your job in different ways? Has it changed your social dynamics? How? Have you spent more time with family? How do you feel about all of this? Do you plan on gardening more after this? Are you playing more board games?
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