Photo: A look at Fort Street in the heart of the island’s capital Basseterre during a lockdown period in July 2021 (credit: Randynightzone Nicholls)

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Thursday 8th July 2021)-Chairman of the National COVID-19 Task Force Abdias Samuel has indicated that the current 24-hour lockdown period in St.Kitts-Nevis could be the last one amid the pandemic.

“Hopefully by next week we should see some form of reopening. I think that we are at a level that we are satisfied. We do understand that we have to live with this virus and the reality is that you have to adapt. We have to now adapt and to live with this,” he stated at the National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing held on Wednesday 7th July 2021. 

He added: “This should be- and I caution myself in saying this-This should be our last 24 hour lockdown. Maybe we can have restrictions when we see clusters but if we look around the world, we can see. Look at the UK- what they have done, Barbados has done similar and we’re looking for the best practice throughout the Caribbean region and by extension the whole world.”

As with the ongoing restrictive measures, Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th July will have a 24-hour lockdown.

The National COVID-19 Task Force official has applauded the discipline of members of the public saying: “The one or two incidents reported here and there, these are something that are acceptable. They fall within the plus or minus margin that we expected but overall, we have had a wonderful response from the general public…”

Samuel informed that the task force convened a multi stakeholders’ meeting on July 6th involving the participation from all sectors of society noting that “a number of measures are going to be deliberated upon and hopefully they would be approved or discussed.”

He said prior to that on 5th July, the task force had a discussion looking at various sectors in society as per “the reopening of the economy and the country on a whole and bringing the country to a state of normalcy.”

He outlined per sector some of the general recommendations that were discussed among the membership in consultation with a number of stakeholders.

Such areas are public transport (land and sea), bus, taxi operators, ferries and water taxis as well as  business sector opening hours and “encouraging e-commerce looking at digital transformation as the way forward to help us build resilience because the reality is we have to live with this virus going forward.”

Additionally, he spoke about discussing a policy of persons working remotely (outside office) and the capacity that should be permissible for persons to return to offices, and also policy for businesses to advocate for vaccination and also the continuing education programme for those businesses.

Samuel said there was discussion about vendors remaining in the public market and the situation of farmers and fishers adopting programmes that would help them to be resilient.

In relation to the construction sector, he pointed out that there was discussion about the opening of hardware stores so that construction can begin and how the sector can apply trade in a very safe manner.

About the religious sector, according to Samuel: “We were happy with the religious sector because they have been conforming with the protocols and procedures and there wasn’t much really that we can advocate for but for them to continue doing what they were doing.”

Pertaining to the manufacturing sector, Samuel commented that the task force is pleased by the approach taken noting that at the 5th July session, “manufacturers rolled out a plan on how they wish to open and that was commendable.”

For the education sector, he talked about the protocols and document that have been developed by the Ministry of Education in consultation with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders such as the National COVID task force. The reopening of nurseries and daycares with strict protocols was also mentioned.

Other sectors include tourism, public, entertainment and sporting.