Sat | May 30, 2020

St Kitts & Nevis government declares state of emergency for 14 days

Published:Wednesday | April 1, 2020 | 12:16 AM
Covid-19
Covid-19

Since last Saturday, March 28, the island of St Kitts & Nevis has been under a state of emergency.

The restriction of freedom of movement of all citizens and residents, who have been subjected to a curfew between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. each day, ends on April 7.

This is part of the Federal Government’s scaled-up response to contain and control the COVID-19 virus and minimise harm to its people, said a media release from that Caribbean nation.

The Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations require every person to remain confined to their place of residence, inclusive of their yard space, to avoid contact outside of their family except in stipulated circumstances such as essential travel to the ­doctor, grocery store, bank, credit union, money services, business, pharmacy or to refuel vehicles. The regulations also require the closure of non-­essential businesses and regulate the hours of opening for ­essential services.

SOCIAL-DISTANCING PROTOCOLS

St Kitts & Nevis has also imposed social and physical distancing protocols as part of the increased response. Businesses will be required to observe a physical distance of six feet between its customers inside and outside of their businesses. Following a meeting with the operators of the three bus lines and ferry operators, given the congestion in public transport vehicles and the potential for contagion, certain ­restrictions have been imposed to protect operators and their patrons of no more than one passenger per row.

To ensure that persons are faithfully complying with the curfew and other restrictions, strong penalties including fines of up to $5000 and/or a term of ­imprisonment of up to six months can be imposed on those who fail to comply with the regulations.

While it is highly uncommon to restrict free ­movement, this is an unprecedented time and the dangers that confront the Federation demand that Government takes serious actions to confront and ­overcome this pandemic. These strong measures are in place for 14 days, in the first instance, and Government shall continue to evaluate and adapt the regulations as necessary as the situation evolves, said the release.

As the result of actions by local experts, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), St Kitts & Nevis was able to keep the virus offshore until as recently as March 25, 2020, when two Kittitian nationals arrived from New York and were tested positive for COVID-19. In fact, St Kitts & Nevis was the last place in the Americas to confirm positive cases of COVID-19. This is due to its “Life First” strategy by limiting cruise ships and taking precautionary measures with commercial airline passengers arriving from designated hotspots or displaying symptoms of respiratory illness, quarantining or refusing entry as warranted. Once these two cases of COVID-19 were imported into the Federation, the Federal Government needed to become more aggressive in its actions and this state of emergency was declared.