CASTRIES, St. Lucia – Prime Minister Phillip J Pierre, indicating that St. Lucians will have to live with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for the ‘foreseeable future” has announced an end to the existing state of emergency (SOE) that had been put in place by the last administration to curb the spread of the virus that has so far killed 232 and infected 12,129 others since March last year.
“On October 16, the state of emergency will end and will not be reinstated,” Pierre said, acknowledging that some of the existing protocols would remain in place until the end of the month.
He said while the science validates the restriction of movement of people has led to a decline in the number of COVID-19 positive cases, however ‘these restrictions come great personal challenges.
‘As we strive to find the right balance between securing some level of normality in our daily lives and fighting the CVUD-19 pandemic …the COVID-19 virus looks like it will be with us for the foreseeable future and we must therefore commence the process of living with that reality while taking the necessary measures to avoid a dysfunctional society,” Pierre said in a radio and television broadcast on Thursday night.
He said however, the restrictions to the opening of business hours where citizens meet for socializing will be maintained to assist in reducing the opportunity for spreading the virus.
“The Cabinet of Ministers has agreed to adopt the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Act to invoke adjusted protocols and restrictions that are necessary to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.” He said, adding that these new measures will come into effect from Sunday until the end of the month in the first instance.
“Let me assure you that as soon as the rate of infection reduces to a relatively safe level, the restrictions will be relaxed. I take no measure in announcing that for the time being we will have to undergo continued restrictions in your movements because these are still necessary to control the spread of the virus.
“I empathize with you as we continue to live with the many inconveniences brought on by this global COVID-19 virus. I believe the majority of St. Lucians have done well in observing the protocols, “Pierre added.
Health, Wellness, and Elderly Affairs Minister, Moses Jn Baptiste under the new measures, the confinement to residence on weekends will be in effect Monday to Saturday from 7.00 pm and ends at 4.00 am (local time) while there will be a 24-hour confinement on Sundays.
They said a person may attend a religious ceremony on Sundays during confinement but must return to his or her residence by 1.00 pm on that day.
A person shall not host or attend a mass crowd event, social event except with 10 or less persons of his or her immediate family or household.
Recreational/social activities at hotels will be permitted on property during curfew hours, provided that such activities take place on property. An educational institution may open for face to face engagement to facilitate structured supervision from October 18, 2021 for Grade K, Grade 6, Form 4, Form 5 and Special Education Schools.
‘During this period, the Government of Saint Lucia will meet with stakeholders and the newly reconstituted COVID-19 Management Center to review the COVID-19 situation and provide a further update on the protocols. Let us all continue adhering to the protocols to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus and return to some level of normalcy.”.
Meanwhile, the government has announced the Cletus Springer to chair the National COVID-19 Management Centre consistent with its mandate “for a more inclusive and depoliticized advisory body on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic”
It said that Springer, who once served as the director of the Department of Sustainable Development of the Organization of American States (OAS) “brings to the Centre his experience in public sector management, environmental health, sustainable development and communications.
The government said the National COVID-19 Management Centre will also benefit from the appointment of representatives from various organizations including the private sector, trade union movement and the St. Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association.