Good evening, fellow citizens.
Only a few short days ago, the Prime Minister, and Minister of National Security, addressed you; urging you, the beloved people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique to work with us, so that we have a shot of winning the deadly battle against Covid-19.
We all recalled when the Prime Minister invoked those vivid and heart-wrenching images of dead bodies and sick people lining corridors from China, to Italy, to Spain, to Iran, and elsewhere around the world.
In some of the most developed countries around the world, we have watched together as health care systems have reached their breaking point, with this disease wreaking havoc on resources.
I am sure you have seen the infestation centres that are now the United Kingdom and the United States — our two biggest Grenadian diaspora communities, and from which all our cases so far, have originated.
In major countries of the world, streets are deserted; playing fields are abandoned; business places are shut down and neighbours are in lockdown.
Here in the State of Grenada, we closed our borders to the rest of the world a week ago. We subsequently announced our first case.
The Prime Minister and Minister of National Security immediately went further and recommended to the Governor-General to declare a Limited State of Emergency in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. This was designed to convey to you the seriousness of the health threat we now face. A day later, 6 more cases were diagnosed.
As Health Minister, my team and I have begged you to stay indoors, observe social distancing, wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands; furthermore, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.
Above all, we sounded the one foolproof measure: practice social distancing. Sadly, many have not heard us. Many have ignored us.
What is more alarming, they have ignored the medical experts, and they have seemingly blocked out the gruesome images of the impacts of this virus that they have seen around the world. Those images alone should have been enough to show you how very dire the situation is, and that we are not to take the chances that many of you continue to take.
Sisters and brothers, our most important roles in Government, are to listen to our people, and to protect our nation. This is why the Prime Minister and Minister of National Security is acting aggressively and decisively: the security of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique is compromised.
Our security is compromised in a way that it never has been before.
Lives are at stake. Your life is at stake. Your grandmother’s life is at stake. Your father’s life is under threat. My life and that of my family are under threat, and so is my neighbour’s. Whole families stand to be wiped out.
From the halls of the palace, to the seat of prime ministers, to the village slums, Covid-19 has shown that it respects no one.
And every time you venture outside of your house, you put yourself and others at risk. Every time you leave your house, you are in danger of getting infected or killed.
Every time you break or ignore guidelines to quarantine when you have been exposed, you are potentially taking the life of one of our citizens.
Maybe you are prepared to take the gamble, but unfortunately, it’s not only to your detriment. You are endangering the lives of each of us.
The Prime Minister said before, and I repeat tonight, our Administration is not in the business of gambling.
We are not in the business of taking lives.
Everything else pales in comparison to the health and wellbeing of a nation.
This is not about economics. It is about saving lives. It is about public health, public safety and public order.
To that end,
The beach parties end.
The bar gatherings and boat parties end.
The crowded buses will be parked up.
Everything that puts our lives and livelihood at risk ends.
Fellow citizens, as a result of the inability of some of you to follow the guidelines designed to keep you safe, the Government is now revisiting the measures from last week, with a view to escalating them.
This will give our medical authorities the necessary mechanisms to contain the very real possibility of a community spread of this Covid-19 virus. It will also ensure that there is proper maintenance of supplies and services.
In this regard, therefore, a mandatory curfew will be imposed beginning from 7 pm on Monday, 30 March 2020, and ending at 7 pm on the 6th day of April 2020.
During this period, every person shall remain confined to their place of residence (inclusive of their yard space), to avoid contact outside of their household; except as provided in the Regulations or as may be authorized in writing by the Commissioner of Police.
This means that you are not permitted to go to the beach, go for a walk or visit your neighbour. You are only to leave for food or medical emergency, and grocery stores and shops will be open, but only on specified days.
The days and the stores will be published and announced through GIS and the media houses tomorrow, by 10 am.
All regulations announced last week are intact, except for the following:
- Every establishment or business shall remain closed including restaurants and gas stations.
- Shops which sell groceries, grocery stores and supermarkets in each Parish shall be open for business between 8 am and 12 noon on select days specified by the Commissioner of Police.
- Essential movement for travel for shops, which sell groceries, grocery stores and supermarkets.
- One person from each household shall be allowed to leave their residence once during a grocery day to attend shops which sell groceries, grocery stores and or supermarket in their own parish. Any vehicle used during this period for this purpose must, where the vehicle is an omnibus carry only one person in a row of seats, and where the vehicle is a car shall only carry one person other than the driver. There shall be no for-hire vehicles used for this purpose.
- Workers at such shops which sell groceries, grocery store and or supermarket shall be entitled to leave their homes for work in those supermarkets. The relevant employers shall provide transport for each such employee. There shall be no more than one person in any row of seats in any vehicle provided for staff.
- Suppliers who are approved by the Commissioner of Police will be allowed to work to supply shops which sell groceries, grocery stores on the days that those shops, grocery stores and supermarkets are open in accordance to permission given by the Commissioner of Police.
- There shall be no sale and consumption of alcohol in or in the vicinity of any shop, grocery store, or supermarket or in any public place.
- If the manager, owner or other person in charge of any shop which sells groceries, grocery store or supermarket, or any employee of any of these entities, aids, abets or facilitates the breach of any regulation, without prejudice to any other penalty in law, the shop, grocery store or supermarket will be immediately closed.
- Hotels are to remain open, excluding any spas, gyms, restaurants and discotheques therein, and however such restaurants may offer takeaway or room service, and where a hotel remains open the staff shall remain on the premises for the duration of the period under regulation. Hotel employers shall bear the costs of the board and lodging of such staff members.
Brothers and sisters,
I am confident that where if we all do our part, for the next 7 days, in the first instance, we will see the Covid-19 tide changing in our Tri-Island State. Thank you, may God bless us all.