The following is a statement by opposition leader Phillip J. Pierre on the abrupt announcement last evening by the prime minister of Saint Lucia to implement a 24-hour curfew April 1, 2020.
CASTRIES, St Lucia – I understand the critical situation which would have led the prime minister and his Cabinet to consider and effect a complete lockdown of the country.
With the rising number of new COVID-19 cases which are locally contracted, it means that the virus is spreading in the country and it must be contained in order to avoid future calamity, we must all take social distancing, very, very seriously. Our response to that call can determine whether we, our loved ones and our friends survive the pandemic or not.
In my first address on COVID-19, I stated that we had to prepare for a complete shutdown of the country. We needed to give adequate attention to preparing the citizens for this drastic, though necessary step.
The suddenness of it, [the 24-hour curfew ] with no prior notice will cause much pain panic and despair to many people, especially those who do not have the capability to stock essential commodities in quantities that can last as long as the stated lockdown.
There are areas in the country where people depend on community facilities like bathrooms, and toilets. Some arrangements for them to use such facilities must be factored in.
There are also some among us who rear animals, whether cattle, pigs, poultry and the like, who must be given special consideration; those animals cannot be kept unattended for long.
Our farmers and fishers have a critical role to play in our food security and therefore also need special consideration.
The special needs of the shut-in elderly and disabled must also be factored in our plans.
I have said before that we are living in extraordinary times and extraordinary measures need to be taken if we are to overcome this pandemic.
Some amendments to the measures articulated by the prime minister last night seem necessary, for example:
- During the period special arrangements should be made for supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations to open on designated days and times to facilitate urgent needs.
- Adequate security arrangements will be required to ensure social distancing.
Despite those special considerations our people must continue to take this situation very seriously and follow the guidelines being provided by our health and government authorities. I appeal to all citizens to exercise the greatest responsible behaviour at this time.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) remains willing to cooperate with the government and engage in meaningful discussion in the fight against this destructive virus.