The following is the Prime Minister’s statement on the motion.
Mr. Speaker, As a nation, we must ask ourselves
1. What are we trying to achieve? – To save lives and livelihoods. Hence we must adequately manage our health care system to ensure it is not overwhelmed and rebuild our economy at the same time.
2. How are we going to achieve this – the plan of our 5 phased approach with the necessary goals in each phase and the triggers to move forward and triggers to revert. This plan only works if we are under a State of Emergency.
3. How will we know we are on track – constant monitoring and evaluation of our 15 triggers and the 9 public health monitoring indicators.
4. If we are not on track what are we going to do about it – our weekly routines will keep us focused on what is important, allow for small incremental steps and/or changes where necessary. At this stage a State of Emergency becomes critical to allow for flexibility to pull back and make changes where necessary.
Having examined the actions of our neighbours in the region and internationally, it is clear that a State of Emergency is the best mechanism in securing timely and seamless execution of protocols and guidelines.
Mr. Speaker, a State of Emergency is no small matter.
A State of Emergency comes as a result of a declaration by government in response to an extraordinary situation posing a fundamental threat to the country. In our case, we face two fundamental threats; a pandemic and secondly the risk of a financial/economic crisis.
It remains one of the most, if not the most effective mechanisms in dealing with events which pose a fundamental threat to a country and it reminds us all to remain vigilant.
If I were to make an analogy Mr Speaker, I would say that COVID-19 is a hurricane like no other that we have faced in this region. It has the potential to wipe out entire nations and cripple economies if not managed properly. Like a hurricane, the best chance of survival is to prepare. A state of emergency for the next 4 months will allow us to continue to implement and adequately monitor the effectiveness of the measures we have put in place, and to make quick adjustments as required.
Mr. Speaker some may ask why 4 months?
As we strive to reopen Saint Lucia under a phased approach we are guided by the rest of the world. With many countries in the world moving to reopen their borders and the waves of recurring infections, it is important that Saint Lucia is able to react quickly by implementing the necessary measures to reduce and contain the spread of this virus. Essentially time to implement, review and react is of the essence.
Despite our success thus far, and Saint Lucia standing out as a leader in the region and the world, we cannot rest easy. As we look toward the future and our ‘new normal,’ we must remember what was effective in getting us to this point and what is needed to continue to stay the course to keep our communities and our loved ones safe.
By extending the State of Emergency, this will allow for the competent authority to act with immediate dispatch on the advisement of our health officials, resulting in the need to declare operational necessary measures.
As a result, Mr. Speaker, this further extension of the State of Emergency is being sought to facilitate a quick response if another outbreak of COVID-19 occurs. The extension will also permit the continuance of the assistance provided by the Cuban Medical Team who is authorized to work only during the state of emergency, thereby strengthening the personnel capacities of the health sector during this volatile period. On this basis, the state of emergency is proposed to continue from 1 June, 2020 to 30 September, 2020.
As a government, we reassure the people of Saint Lucia that we will constantly scrutinize the situation and our performance with the view to reducing the time frame if we continue to see positive trends. As we have been doing throughout this crisis, we will keep you informed always of any amendments.
With God’s guidance, this government is committed to remaining on the right path in the weeks and months ahead for the survival and prosperity of our nation.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you and look forward to the support of my fellow Parliamentarians.