Prime Minister Allen Chastanet took an unusual turn tonight before delivering the much-anticipated Social Stabilization Plan aimed at providing a safety net for Saint Lucians who lost their jobs due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He prayed, a prayer that lasted just about two minutes, a move never before seen by him prior to delivering a televised address to the nation.
After calling on God to keep the country safe and Saint Lucians in daily physical strength and guidance to those in the frontlines against COVID-19, Chastanet went on to deliver a 30-minute address in which he laid out ways on how his government will stabilized the country and deal with the unemployed.
Noting that the outbreak of COVID-19 created two crises, namely a healthcare crisis and an economic crisis, the likes of which Saint Lucia has never seen before.
“In attempting to deal with the health crisis, we are confronted with the realities of the way this disease spreads. It is not waterborne or spread by mosquitoes and there is no vaccine. The spread is human to human and its airborne. Those conditions have caused the complete shutdown of cities, countries and now the world. In essence, this has humbled the entire Global economy,” Chastanet said.
“Here in Saint Lucia we have seen it firsthand,” he said, adding “there are no flights, no cruise ships, all hotels have been closed and approximately 13,000 staff have been laid off. All the supporting services have been shut down: taxis, restaurants, bars, duty free shopping, and suppliers.”
Stating that such a turn of events has impacted the activity of the ports, consumption of water and electricity, consumption of agricultural products and it has significantly impacted revenue to private businesses and the government, the prime minister said government’s focus was on Saint Lucia’s capacity to deal with a community outbreak.
“Our strategy was to delay a community outbreak for as long as possible and balance that with our economic capacity to do so. Taking the draconian decision from early to shut the country down would have been catastrophic. In doing this balancing act, we always leaned on the side of the protection of the health of our country,” Chastanet said.
He added that was why government took some tough decisions as it pertained to the cruise industry and imposed travel restrictions on heavily affected countries in the world.
(Read More in Saturday’s issue of The VOICE Newspaper)