I believe that we all can agree that there was no road map or magic instruction manual for any government on how to deal with a Pandemic without a vaccine, treatment, or cure.
Therefore, many governments worldwide have generated their own action plans; and, unfortunately, many of them contain the following patterns:
- Lack of stakeholder consultation
- Inconsistent actions
- Lack of common sense
- Actions and reactions
- Selective decision-making
- Lack of systematic testing.
- Unreliable and/or incomplete data
- Decisions based on unreliable and/or incomplete data
- Dismissal of proven best practices
- Overreaching decisions that infringe on the rights of businesses and individuals in the name of public safety
Over the past several weeks, I have been drafting operational guidelines and practices that respond to the final point, above. As a result, I have had the opportunity to research and evaluate the reopening plans of various jurisdictions, including US counties and states, Canadian provinces, New Zealand, Aruba, Curacao, Netherlands, and Puerto Rico, among others.
Unfortunately, I am noticing some very disturbing and scary trends in these plans:
- There is an evolution from pre-pandemic, democratic rule of law toward a dictatorial and, at times, communist tone and action.
- Governments seem to have adopted the power to determine which business or industry survives the closures vs. which ones perish. Who gave them this power?
- The plans appear to embody a perfect excuse to restrain free enterprise and also to limit previously earned and acquired rights. For example, why can a business now open Monday to Friday but it must close on the weekends (when previously it was permitted to be open)? Why can one business be open freely and another one is only permitted to be open by appointment? Why are some allowed to do only curbside service, while others are able to be open for full service when the distinction is simply because they sell different products (e.g. supermarkets vs. hardware stores)?
- Instead of making recommendations to businesses, the tone in some points instead is a strict order with no rhyme nor reason nor a medical basis.
We must remain vigilant in order to ensure that the democratic basis of our government is not eroded on the grounds that actions are being taken in the name of public safety. The Pandemic did not grant a license to our leaders to play God, judge, and jury all at the same time.