Editorial: Arming with restraint

·3 min read

CAN we handle restraint? The term means different things to people. Keeping something under control or within limits is one interpretation. Another is curtailing or depriving one of freedom.

The first meaning retains a sense of personal involvement and social responsibility. A person exercising restraint does so, conscious of and conforming with a rationality that the constraint imposed by the self serves a greater good that benefits the person or the best interests of all.

The second association implies resentment at least or resistance at most to the limitation of a person’s freedom. The undercurrent of either resentment or outrage is rooted in a perceived violation of one’s sense of entitlement to a privilege being denied.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama recently directed public and private entities to disseminate information to the public that only fully vaccinated persons will be catered to, allowed to enter or given access to a venue, whether indoor or outdoor, starting Jan. 1, 2022.

Only banks, markets, clinics, and hospitals can continue to accept unvaccinated or partially vaccinated citizens.

After the Cebu City Government implemented curfew from midnight until 3 a.m., the Cebu City Police Office recently arrested 228 violators, including 17 minors, during recent “Oplan Bulabog” operations, reported Arnold Y. Bustamante and Justin K. Vestil on Dec. 4 in SunStar Cebu.

While restrictions on people’s circulation have drastically eased since the community quarantines and granular lockdowns of the previous year, there is a need to stress that the public and private sectors share responsibilities in handling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fueled by fewer local government restrictions, the release of yearend bonuses, and aggressive marketing to boost holiday spending, a dangerous sense of complacency lulls many persons to lower their guard and venture out.

Threats from the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 do not seem to make a significant dent on the public’s determined optimism. Genaro, a car rental operator, noted that aside from the increase in the number of passengers he has recently brought to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) compared to the same period last year, he has noted a common tendency among his passengers to dismiss the Omicron threat as a minor threat.

Many of his passengers say their travels are limited to domestic destinations. Besides, “our borders are closed” to countries where Omicron originated, Genaro quotes many of his passengers as saying.

Many countries, including the Philippines, shut their borders to the influx of persons traveling from South Africa and other southern African countries, despite the lack of proof that the Omicron variant originated from South Africa, wrote “The Economist” on Nov. 29.

“The Economist” observed that aside from mandating the wearing of face masks and limiting mass gatherings, South Africa performed an important act benefiting other countries when its virologists and epidemiologists monitored and studied a possible new variant and, “most important,” immediately shared their findings on Omicron.

For its timely sequencing and release of Omicron findings, South Africa is feeling “unjustly punished” by the worldwide travel bans that are taking a considerable toll on its economy, particularly tourism. “The Economist” cautions that South Africa’s experience may prove to be a “disincentive” for countries to invest in genomic sequencing, needed to know not just what a variant is but how to manage it.

A bigger unknown than Delta, Omicron may be essential for the world to reflect on how the times call for persons and countries to know when to tap or not restraint for navigating a world living with a pandemic.

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