by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The latest lifting of the nationwide curfew brings relief to the restriction of movement that was in effect between the hours 1:01 and 5:00 a.m.
The new SRO came into effect from Thursday, November 18 to Thursday, December 2, 2021.
President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Gizelle Matthews gave her views on what this lifting may mean for businesses going forward.
“I think the lifting of the curfew… I think is obviously a welcome relief for the community at large in the smaller bars and entertainment industry in particular. That allows for those persons who want to have events once they comply, apply through the task force, get the necessary allowance to do so, it allows those events to now resume safely with all guidelines or protocols in place, and that industry to start to thrive again. It also allows [even] restaurant owners to serve dinner beyond maybe 9-10 p.m. The kitchen closes a bit later because staff now have a bit more wiggle room in terms of timelines to get home. And so once the health authorities would have made that decision based on data, [looking] at our vaccination rates and looking at our infection rate, that’s a decision they would have made feeling it was safe and ready to go.”
However, Matthews offered this warning to the general public to see more easing of restrictions sooner.
“Now, bear in mind, things continue to change because [COVID-19] is fluid. And so that’s where we are now and let’s hope that we continue to wear a mask, sanitise and just follow the protocols and continue to become very vigilant in everything that we do so that we can stay safe.”
While the Chambers has not had any recent contact with the COVID-19 Task Force, Matthews indicated that they are mindful of the work they are doing to increase the capacity of offering for the restart and regrowth of the cruise tourism sector and are exercising patience.
The President of the Chambers admitted that while the business sector and the health authorities may not agree on every aspect of what is considered balancing economics and safety, they recognise the work being done by the health officials but still have a few ideas they wish to discuss in future.
“We can’t always agree on everything because we are business people and they are dealing with health. So you know, here you have a contradiction in terms of [COVID-19]. So I think we’re trying to just balance; that we keep the health of the country, keep the health of the people and at the same time yes, there are some areas that we need to discuss. But I think one or two came up here today, which is stayover passengers, which was an area Port Zante is still something we want to be able to see how we could maybe collaborate and give some ideas to them or maybe how that can work. Also, the capacity of managing the bubble tours really. But other than that, I think that we are moving in the right direction; we just have to be patient.”
The CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, Racquel Brown, addressed concerns about building capacity for tour offerings as the cruise season continues to ramp up in December.
“One of the things that we have to do is to provide the variety of tours and the experience because that is what [people] are coming for… However, the diversity of tours that we were [able to] advise and that we do have and the capacity right now for Shore EX, which at this point in time when the Celebrity Apex and the Harmony are in, for Shore EX, which is just cruise ship, we’re not talking or independent, is over 7000. We are working with a task force to open up the capacity of the tours, not just the frequency, and they’re working with us to do that. We believe that when the six vessels are here, we will be more than at that point because we would have also received additional tours [from Nevis].”