The Cabinet of Ministers is considering significantly increasing the penalties for noncompliance with the protocols contained in the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Act.
And the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force has been instructed to take the strongest action to ensure compliance with the protocol, especially in high-risk areas.
All this comes amid decreasing transmission and positivity rates, and an astonishing reluctance by Saint Lucians to get vaccinated within a certain time period.
Despite that, however, government appears to be relaxing the protocols set up to protect citizens from the coronavirus, which has been responsible for 264 deaths as of yesterday, and over 12,000 persons being infected in country.
There were changes to the protocols last Sunday which saw a reduction to the curfew hours on that day starting from 5:00pm instead of the 1:00p.m. This is to remain so right up to December 2.
Health Minister Moses ‘Musa’ Jn. Baptiste said the new time was to remove any perception of one set of standards for cruise visitors and another for Saint Lucians, further that the Cabinet of Ministers acted on the recommendations of the COVID -19 Management Centre.
“This change will also be applied to the time when cruise visitors return to their ships,” he added, in recognition of the cruise ship season which is now unfolding in Saint Lucia.
Said Jn. Baptiste, “This change is being introduced with the condition that the sale of alcohol on beaches and public places will not be allowed. The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force has been instructed to take the strongest action to ensure compliance with the protocol, especially in high-risk areas.”
He warned Saint Lucians who refuse to pay heed to the protocols noting that government’s tracking data has consistently registered high risk behaviour by a small, but statistically significant number of Saint Lucians especially on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons even during confinement periods.
“Despite their best efforts, the police have not been able to fully enforce the protocols, because they are too few and too over-burned,” Jn. Baptiste said, stating that “there are those among us who willingly take the risk that they will not be caught by the Police when they ought to be more afraid that they may catch and spread the virus to their families and loved ones.”
While noting an increase in the number of vaccinations, Jn. Baptiste said government is concerned about the island’s vaccination rate. It is way behind that of other Caribbean countries.
“This means that Saint Lucia is in a significantly weaker competitive position compared to these countries,” he said.
“We should all be concerned that our actions and inactions do not lead to a 5th Wave after the Festive Season. IF that should happen, cwapo will smoke our pipes,” Jn. Baptiste said.
He called on Saint Lucians to remember that the power to end COVID-19 transmission lies in them.
“We should now be in no doubt that COVID-19 steals lives and ruins livelihoods. It is all up to us to shape the future we want. Government can and will do all that it can to stop the spread of the virus. But Government does not have YOUR power to avoid catching COVID. Your health is first and foremost your responsibility,” he said.
According to Jn. Baptiste, “vaccination is the most effective tool we have to live, work, learn and recreate while keeping COVID under control.”
“The Government through the COVID -19 Management Centre will step up its engagement with key stakeholders to come up with an effective vaccination policy and strategy,’ Jn. Baptiste said.