Saint Lucia’s Cabinet of Ministers, acting on the recommendations of the COVID -19 Management Centre, has decided to introduce a 5:00 pm start time for home confinement on Sundays.
Health, Wellness, and Elderly Affairs Minister Moses Jn Baptiste announced Friday that the move is to remove any perception of one set of standards for cruise visitors and another for Saint Lucians.
Jn Baptiste explained that the measure becomes effective from November 7, 2021, through to December 2.
He said the adjustment would also apply to the time when cruise visitors return to their ships.
The Vieux Fort North MP observed that the change comes with the condition that the sale of alcohol on beaches and public places will not be allowed.
“The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force has been instructed to take the strongest action to ensure compliance with the protocol, especially in high-risk areas,” he warned.
And he also revealed that Cabinet is mulling stiffer penalties for people who violate COVID-19 regulations.
The latest adjustment in COVID-19 protocols follows a controversy over what tourism officials said was an ‘authorised cruise tourism operation’ on a ‘no movement Sunday.’
Videos on social media of visitors disembarking from a bus attracted public outcry and complaints that tourists had freedom while the authorities wanted locals to stay at home.
“I acknowledge that allowing visitors to move about the country even with restrictions, while the rest of us don’t have that privilege, is never what we intended, Jn Baptiste stated.
“It is exactly what we campaigned against is not right and requires review,” the Health, Wellness, and Elderly Affairs Minister observed.
“While we were keen to give a little financial relief to our taxi drivers and workers at bubble sites and attractions, we do not want to create the perception of “two Saint Lucias,” which a continuation of this situation will create. On behalf of the Government of Saint Lucia, I apologise to you for this oversight,” Jn Baptiste said.
He also disclosed that Cabinet is also considering ‘significantly increasing’ the penalties for non-compliance with the protocols contained in the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Act.
And while noting an increase in the number of vaccinations, Jn Baptiste disclosed that Cabinet is concerned that Saint Lucia’s vaccination rate is way behind that of other Caribbean countries.
The Minister’s complete statement appears below:
Headline photo: Stock image of police check