If mid-April means April 15, we have exactly a month before we enter the next phase of managing the Covid-19 virus – no lockdowns unless there is an emergence of a lethal variant or shortage of hospital beds because of rising severe Covid-19 cases.

When we look back, we have spent most of the year in lockdowns. The current lockdown is the longest. It started in mid-January with a brief relaxation in between before it was imposed again on February 23.

A month is a long time. With patience stretched so thin, people are still not convinced and calling for more relaxation. The numerous explanations or clarification from the government failed to convince many. The expectation was the lockdown would be lifted completely after the Class X and XII exams.

However, this is the last mile and as we wait to move into the next phase where we (the people) will decide lockdowns, the best way is to cooperate with the decisions made. There are ample reasons. The lockdown is extended until mid-April so that the vulnerable group- the old and the children will be fully vaccinated to prevent severe cases. Lifting restrictions means more cases including in the community. Even under lockdown, the cases are increasing.  The new strategy was decided after careful thinking and based on research and our own experience.

Lockdowns are difficult. Everybody has experienced the impact, big or small. But without an alternative, the current decision seems to be the way out of the pandemic. The decision may be a top-down approach, as many say, but it has to be understood in a pandemic year when there are not many choices. We are into the third year of the pandemic, but there is no convincing reason or solution to convince the government to change its style of managing Covid-19.

We have waited long, suffered and bore the brunt of the strict measures. But the signs of easing up are already there. And as days pass by, more and more restrictions, some call it suppression, are being lifted depending on the situation of the virus. Phuentsholing has already entered the next phase and it is working even with rising daily cases. Some residents with symptoms are in self-quarantine and not even going to test.

Meanwhile, as we wait for the next phase, what we could do is focus on how we could revive the economy. What the pandemic did to the economy is there for all to see. How we go about needs discourse. The Prime Minister is welcoming ideas. The complaints had been genuine and loud. Here is the opportunity to discuss and look for solutions to the ailing economy as we prepare to get back to normal; not forgetting that the risk is still around.

The impact on the economy will not go away with the relaxations. The war in eastern Europe and China placing millions of people under quarantine in its business provinces are going to disrupt the global supply chain. Some multinational companies in China ceased operations as the lockdown affected millions. Fuel and food prices will soar. We are already feeling the consequences.