The Government of Saint Lucia this week changed some measures and introduced new ones aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus which is rapidly making inroads into the community with 10 related deaths, 342 active cases and 770 diagnosed cases as of press time yesterday.
The situation, which so far has grounded all sporting activities on island (see back page for story) is said to be grim by both Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George.
Pleas by both parties in the past to Saint Lucians to abide by COVID-19 protocols appear not to have had the desired effect, however there is hope that the changed and new measures which became effective yesterday may awaken Saint Lucians of the need to pay better attention to their health and safety and that of others.
Government, in a release yesterday, said that it fully appreciates the adverse impact these measures may have on commercial activity on island and on the livelihoods of the citizenry.
“We do not take this decision lightly but rather we move forward in the best interest of the health and safety of all our citizens. The objective of these new measures is to limit the movement of people in order to prevent further transmission of COVID-19. We thank you for your continued patience and support as we work collaboratively towards a more prosperous Saint Lucia,” noted government in its release.
The measures which have been changed, however slightly, and the new ones are as follows: Work from home to reduce contact meetings: All organizations and businesses are asked to continue implementation of a Blended Service/Operations Approach where possible, for all operations and employees. Additionally, where possible, there should be a complete move to staff and board meetings being held virtually /online platform.
Suspension of face-to-face classroom teaching: All schools (public and private) are to remain physically closed and exclusively operational via multimedia platforms. Special allowances in the public education system are to be made to facilitate the following: Students of medical schools, Grade 6, CAPE, secondary schools in forms 4 and 5 that are sitting CSEC, other exams and preparing for practical evaluations.
All business operations and commercial activities must end by 9:00 p.m. daily: This requires all businesses including supermarkets and restaurants to completely shut their doors and dismiss staff by 9:00 p.m. Separate provisions apply for Essential Civil Services, Construction Operations, Manufacturing Operations, etc.
Activities allowed to open: Gas stations, supermarkets, financial services (inclusive of insurance), restaurants (takeout service only), manufacturing, exports, hardware stores, public transportation, vendors on rotation with protocols, agricultural sector, call centers, hotels for international tourists, doctors’ offices, Diagnostic and lab services and other health support services, pharmacies, law offices, utility companies, media services and customs brokerage firms.
Essential government services include: Critical government agencies, hospitals, fire stations, police and immigration, air and sea ports, infrastructure department, NEMO, public utility companies.
Prohibition of all social gatherings: No social gatherings whether in public or private settings. Individuals are to limit their contact to their immediate households. No allowance is given for mass gatherings, social events, or loud music permits. All daily regular church and religious services may operate using a blended approach. Where there is such physical service such an assembly is limited to 25 people inclusive of religious officials. Special provisions apply for special religious rites including christenings, weddings and funerals. Those services may operate using a blended approach but where there is physical service such assembly is limited to 10 people.
Restriction on alcohol sales: Liquor licenses suspended effective Wednesday 20th January 2021. Additionally, public consumption of alcohol is also prohibited particularly as a feature in small social gatherings at public beaches, rivers, etc.
Restrictions on in-dining restaurant services: Restaurants and food vendors are to restrict services to “Take Away” only as “In-Dining” services are strictly prohibited. Alcohol licensed restaurants and vendors must abide to the updated policy for liquor suspension.