My fellow citizens and residents, your government has been working assiduously to contain the COVID-19 virus and to reopen our Country. Every decision we have made as a government, has been underpinned by our life first strategy – that is to protect the lives of all our citizens and residents. In doing so we have been guided by the science and the advice of our technical team.
The developments over the past several weeks have forced us to take some difficult decisions to contain the spread of the virus and save lives. We imposed initially a partial lockdown and curfew and thereafter a 24 hour lockdown and curfew with additional restrictions. Some businesses ceased operations during the lockdown. We restricted movement so as to contain the spread of this dreaded virus, and ultimately to save lives.
We understand that these measures have caused hardship to our people and to this end I have announced a number of new initiatives aimed at helping our citizens and residents, particularly the most vulnerable in our country to weather this storm. This would be the second stimulus package that my government has offered to our people as we continue to ensure that no one is left behind during this difficult period in our history.
We have also ramped up our vaccination efforts and sourced additional vaccines to ensure that our people continue to have access to this life saving measure. I am pleased to report that as of yesterday July 09, 2021 some 69.7% of our adult population had taken a first dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccine and some 57.6% are fully vaccinated. This is commendable progress. I take this opportunity to thank those citizens and residents who have taken the vaccine. They have put their safety and that of their families and country first. I continue to urge all of our citizens and residents to get vaccinated without delay. Vaccination remains the most powerful tool that we have to take us out of the clutches of COVID-19 and place us on a firmer path to a stronger and safer future.
My fellow citizens and residents, the current lockdown and other restrictions expire on Monday July 12, 2021. While we have seen notable improvements over the past weeks which allow us to now reopen further, we are not yet where we want to be. Therefore in an effort to move closer to the ideal position, I continue to urge our people to get vaccinated, to remain ever vigilant and never let your guard down when it comes to COVID-19.
Having regard to the improvements realized over the last two weeks, we can now reposition our country on the path to a full restoration of normalcy.
New Measures On The Path To Normalcy
My Cabinet met in a special session on Wednesday July 07th and again on Thursday July 08th and deliberated on the recommendations from our National Task Force emanating from widespread national consultations with key stakeholders. As a result of the foregoing, I am in a position to announce new measures. These measures will see a reopening of our economy in a phased and safe manner, the reopening of businesses, schools and churches under strict COVID-19 protocols, our people returning to their jobs, earning income from their hard work and the stimulation and growth of our economy. The new Statutory Rules and Orders which will take effect from Monday, July 12, 2021 will provide more details. I will now outline some of these measures to provide guidance on the way forward for the next 14 days.
The New Measures
1. Effective Monday, July 12, 2021, there will be no ‘24 hour lockdown’. A night curfew will remain in place but will now be imposed from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am daily. All residents shall stay at home during these curfew hours except for essential workers.
2. All persons employed in the public service, statutory bodies or state-owned corporations, shall resume work. I emphasize that all government employees are to return to work on Monday July 12th.
3. All businesses may return to normal working hours subject to the curfew and must conform to all safety protocols. These include The Construction sector which can resume normal operations. Barber shops and salons which should have no more than two to four customers waiting based on the size of the establishment. All Vendors are to remain in the public market. I repeat all businesses are permitted to return to operation subject to the curfew.
4. Passenger buses will be allowed a maximum capacity of 10 passengers. However, all protocols must be observed. The security officers will be enforcing compliance.
5. Inter Island travel between St Kitts and Nevis to resume again with all COVID-19 protocols observed.
6. Churches can resume normal services but continue to observe all COVID-19 protocols including social distancing.
7. Nurseries and day care centers can reopen using the COVID-19 protocols previously established.
8. Bars and restaurants can resume normal operating hours subject to the curfew and must adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.
9. Sporting events will be allowed in accordance with the conditions outlined in the SR&O.
10. Social gatherings will be permitted but organizers must first apply for permission from the Commissioner of Police.
11. Beaches will open for exercise only. No beach parties or mass gatherings will be permitted.
12. Protocols for entry into St Kitts and Nevis shall remain in full effect save for the period of quarantine set out below.
13. Quarantine for incoming fully vaccinated passengers will be reduced from 9 days to 3 days with testing on the 4th day and release once the test is negative.
14. Children under 18 years and accompanying their fully vaccinated parents or guardians will be treated the same as their parents or guardians in relation to the period of quarantine.
15. Quarantine remains at 14 days for unvaccinated returning citizens and residents.
16. Quarantine shall be at a government approved quarantine facility or at a hotel offering vacation in place. Those wishing to quarantine at home will continue to require and pay for private security during the period of quarantine.
We shall assess thereafter what further steps can be safely taken to reopen our country in an orderly and prudent manner as guided by our experts.
My fellow citizens and residents, it is for us to continue to be responsible. We must all continue to practise the safety measures and adhere to the established COVID-19 protocols. I encourage as many of us as is possible to seize the opportunity to become vaccinated against this deadly virus in an effort to protect ourselves, our families, our communities and our Country. Our future, in every sense is in our own hands. Let us unite to fight COVID-19 and utilize every tool to defeat it.
As your Prime Minister, I assure you that I am fully committed to doing what is right for our people. We shall continue to ensure that our most vulnerable are protected and that no one is left behind. We shall continue with God’s guidance each and every day to put out people first.
May God continue to bless our Nation. I Thank you.