|As Prepared For Delivery
My fellow citizens and residents, greetings. I thank you for tuning into ZIZ TV/RADIO and for logging onto several social media platforms carrying this programme.
New COVID-19 Regulations
A new set of Regulations to assist us in the fight to contain and eventually defeat COVID-19 was published on August 27th, 2020 by an Extra-Ordinary Gazette No. 67 of 2020. These Regulations became effective at 5:00am on Saturday, August 29th, 2020 and will remain in place until midnight Saturday, September 26th, 2020. These Regulations focus on the further opening up of our society, particularly our schools, and on the economic front attention is paid to our hotel sector.
The Regulations outline the non-pharmaceutical measures to be utilized to protect us from the COVID-19 pandemic and, in the main, set the minimum standards to be followed as we continue the careful opening up of the economy. These standards of hygiene, wearing of masks outdoors, and social and physical distancing are critical to our policy of containment and elimination of the disease, mitigating the overwhelming of the health sector and avoiding deaths.
I appeal to our people not to let our outstanding success in containing the virus lull us into a false sense of security. I urge our young people in particular to do the right thing. None is too strong to die. Risky behaviour in the face of COVID-19 is dangerous and can cause deaths.
Please exercise discipline through compliance with the Regulations. I appeal to operators of buses, bars and entertainment centres to comply with the Regulations. Be reminded that beach parties and picnics are not allowed for the time being, and weddings and funerals should be for a short duration with social and physical distancing being observed.
As we contemplate and prepare for the opening up of the hotel sector, Regulation 18 and Schedule III Part I in particular give detailed guidance by way of minimum standards to be put in place by our hoteliers. All hotel employees should make themselves familiar with the new rules. I urge hoteliers to begin the preparations for an October opening, making the necessary physical and other adjustments way in advance to test their systems and their ability to respond appropriately.
Independence Events Curtailed
Our Independence celebrations this year are taking place at the peak of the Hurricane Season and at a time when COVID-19 continues its rampage around the world. Globally there are 25,327,098 cases, with 848,255 deaths recorded and 208,215 newly diagnosed cases within the last 24 hours. Far from being gone, COVID-19 is still with us and is doing great harm to our bodies, our economies and societies.
St. Kitts and Nevis’ infection and mortality rates are among the lowest in the world. We thank God for sparing us from the deaths and containing the number of cases here to 17: the lowest number of all independent member states in the OECS, the Caribbean and the Americas.
We, however, must never be lulled into complacency, but we must continue to utilize the non-pharmaceutical measures such as the frequent washing of our hands with soap, wearing of masks, boosting our immune system and observing physical distancing all in our effort to keep COVID-19 at bay and far away.
The Commissioner of Police will be vigorous in enforcing the law in relation to the wearing of masks in public and also limiting crowds to a minimum, and I appeal to all to comply with the law. These Regulations are intended to protect you, and we must make adjustments in the way we behave. COVID-19 will not adjust to us; we must adjust to the new norm of living with the dreaded disease (COVID-19).
In keeping with the new norms and to continue our leadership on the matter, Cabinet yesterday determined that:
- There will be no Independence Parade this year. This is to reduce the probability of the spread of the virus with thousands of participants attending the Independence Parade. This decision was a painful one, given the seminal importance of Independence at the fulcrum of our sovereign state. We encourage persons to wear national colours, carry their national flags with them and display their flags at their homes and premises. We encourage the visible display of national pride, patriotism and the showcasing of our emblems of nationhood. We encourage community activities to mark the day, mindful to comply with our COVID-19 Regulations.
- The usual cocktail reception hosted by our esteemed Governor General Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton on Independence night will not take place this year. This event would attract thousands of persons from all walks of life.
- Our National Heroes Day commemorative event will take place at the National Heroes Park, with social distancing and wearing of masks being observed. The programme will be curtailed. Members of the public are invited; the dignitaries and family members will also be involved in the ceremony.
- The Prime Minister’s Lecture Series will be delivered this year by one of our citizens in an environment which will be more compliant with the new norms of COVID-19.
In sum, Independence events in the context of COVID-19 have been modified to minimize health risks to everyone. As a consequence, some events have been cancelled, scaled back or will be delivered virtually.
The Stimulus – Social Security to pay Unemployed $1,000 in September
I have listened intently to callers on this weekly progamme, expressing gratitude for our comprehensive stimulus package and seeking extension of some components. As a caring and compassionate Leader, I have sought ways of responding without being fiscally reckless. I am pleased to advise that those persons who are not yet back out to work according to Social Security records will receive a further assistance in September to help them meet some of their expenses at this difficult time. I urge those lucky enough to benefit to spend wisely, NOT on frivolous consumerism but on essentials for life and living. There is a need for all of us who are victims of COVID-19 to be careful how we spend every cent. If there was ever a time to be prudent in our spending, it is now in this time of COVID-19.
We expect close to 3,000 unemployed contributors will benefit from this stimulus.
I do care about the poor in our midst and our elderly who are in the twilight of their years, suffering hardships through no fault of their own but because of COVID-19, which has turned the world economy upside down. We thank God for spared lives, and we will live in certain knowledge that COVID-19 will eventually pass.
I pray that God grants me the wisdom to lead our Country safely through it and that he will usher a new season of joy and prosperity in St. Kitts and Nevis.
All public schools will be ready to receive students, teachers and support staff when schools re-open on September 7th, 2020. Private educational institutions are also expected to work with the COVID-19 Task Force to confirm their readiness for the re-opening. Schedule II of the new SR&O No. 39 of 2020 spells out the minimum standards to purvey a quality education in a safe environment, and these must be faithfully followed.
I am joined tonight by our new Minister of Education, Hon. Jonel Powell. I have every confidence in his ability to lead the Education Ministry at this time of challenge and opportunity. We shall work in unity to deliver not for ourselves, but for the beloved people of St. Kitts and Nevis who when faced with the choice judiciously and wisely chose Team Unity.
I pledge to do all in my power to improve the living standard for all our people. Let us put aside the divisiveness and strife, the pettiness and egomania for unity in service to nation building.
Our Country is calling on us to help our people and Country achieve what no other generation before us has.
I Thank You.