You are here


Is the government serious about social distancing?

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

As we are now left with only the curfew and restrictions on bars and kava clubs, I wonder what the government’s goals now are by keeping the current status for another week?

Like most people in Tonga I completely understood the need for sealing the borders, the lockdown for two weeks to teach us how to social distance and to allow the symptoms of anyone with COVID-19 to become obvious. It appears that has worked and that we do not have the virus in Tonga at this time.

Most activities have been re-opened; schools, churches, public transportation, restaurants, and all other businesses and gatherings except for the indoor and outdoor numbers restrictions and bars, night clubs, and kava clubs (I actually attended a government sponsored meeting with over 40 people in a single room this past week).

It appears that if the government is worried about the spread of the virus then it wouldn’t have opened up many of these activities and we would still be in some form of lock down.

The question then becomes, why are bars and kava clubs still restricted?  The answer can’t be to ensure that we adhere to social distancing – instead it must be an attempt to regulate the social activities of all of us to make sure we stay away from alcohol and kava, an unstated goal of the police and health ministries for years.

The virus now provides an excuse to keep these businesses closed, although I would argue that drinking and kava will continue, just not in a social and controlled environment that clubs provide.  It might be time to consider the positive side of these businesses as they provide a more healthy outlet for people than drinking in the streets or cars and they pay wages that help keep the economy going.

Dean Bishoprick