by Linda Straker
- Grenada has 40 active cases of Covid-19
- Short-term adjustments to health protocols to enable officials to prevent situation from escalating
- Citizens urged to maintain Covid-19 protocols at all times
An investigation to determine if the Sandals Resort breached Covid-19 protocols, as well as shutting down business operations at 10 pm, are among short-term measures announced by Government as it seeks to contain an outbreak of Covid-19 which originated from the hotel in the south of the island.
Grenada has reported 40 active cases; 38 of these cases are connected to the all-inclusive property which resumed operations in October. The other 2 are visitors to the island who were undergoing quarantine with mandatory testing on the 4th day to determine their Covid-19 status before they can mingle with nationals. After several cases were diagnosed, Government locked down the country in March as part of its initial measures to contain and control the spread of Covid-19.
On Sunday, Health Minister Nickolas Steele and other health officials announced the spike in cases which at that time was 26, with 13 persons belonging to the same household. A news release from the Ministry of Health later confirmed that the “Resort has now been deemed to be a place of screening and assessment.” 9 guests have since tested positive for Covid-19.
Addressing the nation on Monday night, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell announced that there will be an urgent meeting with the owners of the property. “The Covid-19 Committee has directed the Ministry of Health to convene an urgent meeting with the owners of Sandals Grenada,” he said, calling on citizens to “do not drop your guard; maintain the Covid-19 protocols at all times.”
“Obviously, there was a breakdown in the hotel’s application of the recommended protocols, and while we seek to determine the exact nature of this breakdown, we must as a Government, enforce the law where breaches have been determined.” The Prime Minister disclosed that Government has already committed to revisiting the protocols under which hotels operate to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to protect the health and safety of employees.
“The harsh reality is that Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc around the world, with some places experiencing second and third waves of infections and being forced into lockdown mode again, as a containment measure,” Dr Mitchell told citizens in the address which was aired immediately after primetime evening newscasts.
Dr Mitchell, who is also the Minister for National Security, said that since the start of the pandemic Grenada has avoided the need for more severe measures, due in large part to the rigorous protocols implemented and which citizens have abided with, for the most part.
“The magnitude of the newly identified cluster signals in no uncertain terms that it cannot be business as usual this Christmas season. It will not be wise for us to sacrifice a few moments of pleasure or monetary gain this Christmas, only to face possible severe health consequences and even death in the aftermath. I therefore appeal to one and all, to exercise restraint and to be responsible,” he said.
“The current situation is indeed alarming, but I must assure you, it is under control. It is important that we continue to maintain the balance between protecting lives and saving livelihoods, without having to resort to another period of lockdown,” he added.
Outlining the new measures which will be gazetted, the Prime Minister said that Government has identified a number of short-term adjustments to the Covid-19 protocols to enable health officials to intensify their surveillance, monitoring, and all other necessary actions to prevent the situation from escalating.
“Effective 15 December 2020, all social gatherings, including weddings and funerals will be restricted to 10 persons. Permission must be sought for any additional numbers. It is recommended that all sporting, cultural and community-based events should be postponed for the next 7 days,” he said.
“Further, also effective 15 December, business operations must cease at 10 pm, except for those businesses that offer essential services. Daytime operations will continue as normal; therefore, there is no need to engage in panic buying, exposing yourselves unnecessarily to situations that can enable the potential spread of the disease,” he announced.
Elaborating on the new measurers he said that restaurants should provide only take-away service and public transportation will stop at 10 pm, except where authorised by the Commissioner of Police to transport essential workers.
“My fellow Grenadians, the general level of compliance with the new regulations will determine our next course of action, that is, whether or not we have to escalate the measures,” he said, making an appeal for the full cooperation of all citizens.
“A nationwide shutdown is not the preferred option, but we must all work together to avoid this. On this note, Government applauds the initiative already taken by some members of the business community to adjust operations in the interest of public safety. We welcome this collaborative approach to fighting the pandemic as Government by itself, cannot win this battle,” said the Prime Minister.