Borders will remain closed to protect the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, declares PM Harris

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 29, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, has said clearly that his Team Unity-led administration will never gamble with the health and safety of its citizens and residents, and as such, the Federation’s ports of entry will remain closed based on the advice of the health professionals.

St. Kitts and Nevis has been commended regionally and internationally for its excellent management of the coronavirus pandemic. The 15 confirmed cases of the virus in the country have since recovered. There were also no COVID-19 related hospitalizations and zero deaths as a result of the disease.

Prime Minister Harris said while the country moves even closer to a return to normalcy with now 7-day weeks of limited operations and no 24-hour lockdowns, his government will continue to proceed cautiously so as not to reverse the positive gains made in the fight against COVID-19.

“Your health comes first above all else…and I will not chance it because we have worked too hard to prevent the overwhelming of our health systems and death on account of COVID-19,” said Prime Minister Harris at the Thursday, May 28 Team Unity Virtual Campaign Meeting.

Under section 11 of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, the Federation’s borders were closed to commercial travel based on the advice of medical experts. The regulations reads, in part, “For the purposes of preventing, controlling and suppressing the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, with immediate effect (a) except with the prior written permission of the Air Ports Authorities, all airports including private airports and fixed-base operations shall be closed to incoming international flights; (b) all sea ports shall be closed to regional and international seafaring and private boating…”

Dr. Harris said he cannot fathom why anyone would want scores, hundreds or thousands coming from known COVID-19 hotspots to enter our country without undergoing quarantine, overwhelming our health system and risking the transmission of the coronavirus.

The prime minister said such a decision would undermine all the hard work of the Government, medical experts and the hundreds of frontline workers in the country, as well as overwhelm the health system and limited resources of the country.

The fifteen cases recorded in St. Kitts and Nevis were all travel related.

If for any reason persons are allowed into the Federation, the practice has been that they would be subjected to the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Prime Minister Harris used the example of when the students from St. Kitts and Nevis were allowed to return home from Jamaica and when health professionals from the Republic of Cuba came to the Federation to assist the medical response team, both groups underwent the 14-day quarantine and all other necessary protocols.

Dr. Harris reiterated that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has managed well during this unpredictable time of the coronavirus pandemic, but reiterated that “we must not tempt fate and we tempt fate if we open our borders callously to hundreds and thousands of people coming from the hotspots of Miami, New Jersey, New York, London and Italy and any other hotspots.”

The honourable prime minister concluded by urging the nation’s citizens who reside in the United States of America, London, Taiwan and other countries around the world where the COVID-19 virus is present to remain safe and abide by the guidelines set out in those countries.

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