Prime Minister Allen Chastanet declared Friday that a COVID-19 lockdown for Saint Lucia would be a last resort, while asserting that there is no intention to shut the country down.
“We have no intention of shutting down,” he said in response to a question from a reporter at a televised news conference, adding that shutting down is not an option.
“Can the situation get worse? Yes!” The PM asserted.
“We do not want to get to the point where we have to close down. If we have to become more draconian we will do it,” Chastanet , visibly exasperated at people not adhering to COVID-19 protocols, warned.
He made it clear that he will not be intimidated by anyone who says the rights of people are being taken away.
According to the PM, the letter of the law will be imposed on anyone who does not comply with COVID-19 protocols.
“I make no apologies. We are not trying to oppress anyone but we have a responsibility to protect the people of this country.”
Earlier, Chastanet told the media briefing that the government has managed the COVID-19 situation extremely well given the reduction in resources.
He noted that his administration has continued to provide all the basic needs of the country.
He noted that schools and businesses had reopened, while hospitals and health centres are operational.
“Business as usual. But it becomes more challenging if in fact we have to go into a lockdown – so the last thing we are going to do is resort to that,” the PM asserted.
He recalled that at an emergency meeting Friday morning, recommendations were made by the office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), the Ministry of Education and other Ministries.
According to Chastanet, the intention was to bring those recommendations to a meeting of the National Emergency Management Advisory Committee (NEMAC) to allow them to be digested over the weekend so that a final cabinet decision can be made on Monday.
He warned that unless every Saint Lucian observes COVID-19 protocols, the situation would be ‘catastrophic.’
“I have indicated that if in fact we have to close down the country it will be a huge burden to us and to everyone,” Chastanet declared.
He explained that the government will do all it can to, first of all, protect lives and secondly, ensure that too much of the progress and successes achieved in reopening economy do not have to be reversed.