The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our everyday lives and undoubtedly taught many of us many lessons. While some may not be beneficial the entire ordeal has had a few silver lining lessons. In our interview with Minister Henry Charles Usher, we asked if the government has learned anything from the pandemic and if it has helped them to be better prepared for a possible pandemic in the future.
Henry Charles-Usher, Minister of Public Service: “There are a couple of points that we learned. One is whatever lockdown measures that we put in place, we have to make sure that we don’t close off the economy because, you can’t allow the economy to just go into freefall the way it did in 2020. It has taken us two years to even get back to the 2020, 2019 levels. We’re not there yet but really it just shows that it was too drastic, the measures that were taken and so we have to have a more measured approach to whatever lockdown situations or whatever restrictions we put in place. Two: The vaccines are working and we have to continue to advocate for those vaccines. We have to continue to advocate that Belizeans get the vaccine to protect themselves, to give themselves more protection. And three, we have to continue to provide the social assistance that’s needed for persons that are, may not be, working because of restrictions put in place. Those are really the major learning points from this pandemic. But as I said just now, we have to have a campaign of getting Belizeans healthier so that their internal defence mechanism, their immune system is healthier and it is able to withstand any future pandemic. This might not be the last one. I hope that we can see some real relief this year. We see the upsurge in the U.S. and in Europe and, you know, we believe that eventually it will make its way here but we have to make sure that we are ready as a country. We are ready as a people and we protect ourselves in whatever way possible.”