Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris
on the State of Emergency
Monday, March 30, 2020
My fellow citizens and residents:
Last Saturday, in an effort to further protect and keep you safe from the COVID-19 pandemic, His Excellency the Governor General proclaimed a State of Emergency in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Under the Emergency Powers Act, my Government instituted Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, SR&O No. 7 of 2020.
These Regulations were necessary to slow the transmission of the virus from one person to another, including reducing secondary infections among close contacts and health care workers. As we interrupt human-to-human transmission, we can be more effective in identifying, isolating and caring for patients. The sooner treatment can start, the better it will be for all of us.
Despite a clear statement that all citizens must stay at home except in certain very limited situations, the Police High Command has reported that many persons have chosen to disobey these regulations. Irresponsible behaviour will not be tolerated. Offenders will be promptly arrested and charged.
We will not hesitate to prosecute those found in breach of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations. We are in a war and this war we must win. Together we must be united, with all of us doing our part to ensure our safety – that of our families, communities and, by extension, our beloved Country. This is not a time for reckless behaviour. Sober, responsible behaviour is essential.
The Cabinet of Ministers has determined that, after consultation with the Police High Command, the National COVID-19 Working Group, the Chief Medical Officer and the Medical Chief of Staff of the JNF General Hospital, there be a 24-hour curfew, a total lockdown, from 7:00pm Tuesday 31st March to 6:00am Friday 3rd April in the first instance. It means that the current regulations will be repealed and new regulations made in which no one, except the Security Forces and other Security Personnel, the Health Care Officers, technical emergency officers of utilities including telecoms, and media personnel, will be allowed out of their residences.
FLATTEN THE CURVE
Today, we learned that the number of confirmed cases in the Federation stands at 8.
Having regard to experiences elsewhere, we expect further cases to emerge as we step up our testing, and increase our contact tracing. The pattern has been that once there is an initial finding of a confirmed case, the situation worsens before it gets better. A similar pattern is expected here in our beloved Federation.
The number of cases will increase, peak, plateau and then decline. The time taken to flatten the curve depends on how quickly our citizens and residents take all precautions and eliminate chances of further transmission, via social distancing and strict compliance with the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, and exercise common sense.
These powers are aimed at restricting the spread of the virus from one person to the next. They are intended to protect you and keep your loved ones safe. Please abide by the regulations.
We are working hard to identify, isolate and provide early care for patients. By minimizing contact, we will keep the numbers down and manageable.
Like the rest of the World, we are at a very critical juncture in our history and development. An all of society approach is required. The Evangelical Association, the Christian Council, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and the Bankers and Financial Services Association, have all been constructive partners so far. I commend their patriotism and enduring interest in the welfare of our Country. I also commend our citizens and residents for understanding that the strong measures imposed will create some inconvenience. Such inconvenience in my view is a small, necessary price to pay for saving the lives of our people.
We may not always get it perfectly right, but we will endeavour to keep trying until we secure that safer, stronger and healthier St. Kitts and Nevis. Let us end the fake news in our country. It is unhelpful, dangerous and unpatriotic.
I strongly reiterate that there is no need to engage in impulsive buying. There is an adequate stock of food on hand. This week alone some 57 containers are arriving with food, vegetables and beverages. The short point is that vessels are coming on schedule every week. Do not crowd shopping centres to purchase and stockpile food that may very well expire and ultimately be a waste of money, as you would have to dispose of it. An adequate supply is on hand for the next 6 to 8 weeks. I urge you to please act calmly and wisely.
Now more than ever we must subjugate narrow self interests for the national good. Our Country’s Motto admonishes us to put Country Above Self and thus will bring out the best from our people. We are a resilient and resourceful people and, with every goodwill, common sense and an adherence to the Rule of Law, we will overcome this existential threat stronger, better and safer. The God we serve is well able to deliver us and in Him we place our trust, knowing that underneath are His everlasting arms.
I am satisfied that as long as we adhere to the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, and we take the advice of our health experts and pray to our God, everything will work for the good.
Our God will not forsake us.
May God Bless us and Bless our Federation.
I thank you.