Prime Minister, Philip J. Pierre, has indicated that he will be advised by the medical community on measures to deal with the current COVID-19 pandemic, but said that a lockdown is not off the table.
“I will lockdown when the medical people say to lockdown,” he said Monday during an appearance on the MBC Television programme ‘Beyond The Headlines’.
“When you lockdown the country suddenly, look at the rush to the supermarkets, look at the chaos. More people contract it,” Pierre told host, Maundy Lewis.
He asserted that he is going to listen to the medical experts.
“So, if we have to lockdown, we lockdown,” the Prime Minister explained, adding that the measure was not ‘off the table’.
However, he appealed to Saint Lucians to observe the protocols and get vaccinated.
Pierre observed that currently in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are two important variables – a global spike and the Delta Variant.
“You must also understand that it’s four weeks since we are in government. The protocols we are putting in place, we hope that they will take some time to fall in place. We hope that there will be a decrease,” he stated.
But Pierre declared that as Prime Minister, he has never told the medical experts what to do.
“I am not a Prime Minister that says ‘I know everything – I will do everything’. I don’t know everything, I will not know everything, I will not pretend to know everything. I am going to listen to what the people who know better than me tell me,” the Castries East MP declared.
“I have never said what to do as far as protocols are concerned – never. All the protocols have been determined, have been agreed to, have been advised on by the medical professionals – not me. I am not a doctor,” the PM stated.
“Every protocol that we have put in place is not done by me or any minister – it’s done basically on the advice of the people who matter,” Pierre said. “We have followed the advice given to us by the people in the Command Centre. This is why we have expanded the Command Centre to let more ideas contend because the last government was at war with the Saint Lucia Medical and Dental Association. We are not at war with anybody,” he explained.
In relation to the strategy regarding the COVID management bill, Pierre explained that all the elements relating to enforcement are still there and as a result it was very disconcerting for people to say that the government has tied the hands of the police. Pierre said all the existing powers of the police remain.
“What we have done, we’ve had some variations in that we have made the offences ticketable which happens in Grenada, Saint Kitts and several other countries. Why do we say that if you you break the COVID protocols you get a ticket? Why do we say that? Very simple. There are about 150 to 200 policemen in quarantine. Many of them have contracted the virus – very sad,” Pierre stated.
He observed that when a police officer goes to arrest someone, the arresting officer is at risk of being infected because of being in close quarters.
Pierre recalled that during an arrest last week in a community he said he would not identify, one officer contracted COVID-19 because the person who was held had the virus.
The PM said the officers involved in the operation plus those who were involved with the detainee had to be quarantined. “You think you really want that for your police?”
He indicated that the ticketing measure was intended to save the lives of police officers and protect there families.
“We never said to the police that the original COVID laws do not exist. It’s still there, we just put another layer – the tickets, but if somebody refuses to listen they can still be arrested,” Pierre said.
Headline photo: Philip J. Pierre (Stock image)