The Grenada government on Friday night declared no movement days as well as a daily curfew for the next 14 days as the island seeks to deal with an upsurge in COVID-19 cases that has killed four people in the last week.
“This week, four families were thrust into mourning as they lost loved ones to COVID-19, despite the best efforts of the medical team to administer treatment after they were hospitalised for care relating to their positive diagnosis and underlying medical conditions.
“Tonight, I extend deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. I pray that the Lord strengthens you in your time of grief,” Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said in a radio and television broadcast.
“My friends, this is the sad reality of the COVID-19 pandemic – it comes, not like a thief in the night, but like an acquaintance, who befriends you, then slowly, or in some cases, rapidly begins to take control of your life, smothering the air that you breathe and leaving you lifeless. Harsh, but real.”
Mitchell said effective Saturday, the curfew shall be in force daily from 7.00 pm to 5.00 am (local time) and that from Friday, September 10 to Monday, September 13 as well as September 17 to September 20.
“During these no-movement days, the Ministry of Health will facilitate greater access to testing and vaccination within communities. No movement will be permitted, except for purposes of testing and vaccination.”
Mitchell also announced that there would be no inter-island travel between Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique during the curfew period.
“Anyone permitted through exemption to travel between the islands must take a Rapid Antigen test before departure,” Mitchell said, adding that the Maurice Bishop International Airport and the commercial ports of entry will remain open.
He said the government is continuing to examine the entry protocols relative to the quarantine period “but it must be appreciated that any decision taken will require advanced notice to travel stakeholders and holiday seekers.
“This we will give in due course,” he said.
Mitchell described the situation as “dire” and that ‘clearly it cannot be business as usual”.
He said while there will be continuity of operation in some sectors, including the public service and state-owned enterprises, manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail grocery stores, banking and transportation “it has become necessary to implement closures in non-essential sectors to help limit the movement of people and to curb the spread of the virus”.
He said that the closures will include daycare centres, saloons, barbershops, gyms and other indoor entertainment facilities.
Schools will offer virtual classes only and Mitchell said that the St. George’s University “will only continue operations with strict adherence to the protocols that all other entities that continue to exist would have to live with”
He said medical practitioners, dentists, veterinarians accountants, lawyers and insurance companies will be allowed to operate only by appointments and that pharmacies and hardware stores will remain open “only for pickup and delivery services during the period.
“All social activities, sporting events and weddings have been suspended also. Funerals are permitted but are restricted to one hour between the 9.00 am to noon. Beach access is limited to five to 10 am daily,” Mitchell said, adding that the government’s debushing programme that brought relief to many people have been suspended as a result of the new measures.
Mitchell told the nation that the COVID-19 situation in Grenada has deteriorated rapidly and daily statistics from the Ministry of Health show that “we have moved from the occasional identification of positive cases to daily additions of new cases, sometimes in excess of 100 per day.
“The medical experts have confirmed that we are now at the stage of community spread. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is now nearing 1,000, with more than 600 active cases. There’s no telling where the next case will be recorded. It could be you, it could be me, it could be a beloved family member or friend; we are all at risk.”
He said he was pleased with the announcement by the religious community to resort to virtual services for the next two weeks.
“We welcome this initiative and ongoing collaboration with critical stakeholders. I express gratitude too, to members of the business community and the trade union movement who have been engaged this week in consultation with the Government, examining strategic moves to deal with this crisis.
“I urge that you continue to appropriately guide your membership going forward. Effectively dealing with this pandemic requires us to have all hands on deck and government welcomes all strategic partnerships.”
But he noted that although the island’s borders will remain open, the current rate of infections could negatively impact travellers wishing to visit Grenada, which is now on the United Kingdom’s green watch list, “meaning that we are at risk of being moved to the amber list which stipulates quarantine measures for their returning nationals”.
He said this would be a deterrent to leisure travel that will affect visitor arrivals and further impact the hospitality sector.
“Additionally, Grenada could lose its coveted Level 1rating by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.”
But he maintained that the population has the power to stop COVID-19.
“We can control it through responsible actions, restricting our own movement, wearing a mask or appropriate face covering in public spaces, maintaining our physical distance and washing or sanitising our hands frequently. Easy steps, which, if followed consistently by everyone, can immediately stem the current trend.
“I call on all leaders within the community – church, business, trade union, political, sports, culture,
social and other media influencers – just about everyone who has a sphere of influence over any sector of the society, let us please put aside personal and organisational differences and join hands
in working towards promoting and achieving the behavioural change that will ultimately protect our people. We have a moral responsibility to do this,” Mitchell told the nation.