by Clive Bacchus
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in the dead of the night, the citizens and residents of St Kitts & Nevis were notified that a “State of Emergency” was declared by the Governor-General, and new Regulations (SRO 24 of 2021), made under the Emergency Powers Act, were implemented in St Kitts and Nevis effective 6 pm.
During the NEOC Covid-19 Briefing held at 5 pm on June 16, 2021, WINN, having reviewed the new Regulations, asked Attorney General Vincent “Juicy” Byron Jr to explain the regulations for Weddings, Funerals, and Places of Religious Instruction in Nevis.
The Attorney General, in response, alleged that WINN “may not have actually perused the SRO 24 of 2021 fully” and ignored the specific question, choosing instead to talk about the difference between the beach attendance regulations for both islands.
The regulations are silent concerning restrictions for “Weddings, Funerals, and Places of Religious Instruction” in Nevis.
Section 13 of the new Regulations addresses specific rules for St. Kitts only.
WINN Media contacted local attorneys-at-law who confirmed that the regulations are, in fact, silent concerning restrictions on “Weddings, Funerals, and Places of Religious Instruction” in Nevis.
WINN has been advised that, given the silence in the new Regulations, the provisions of the Covid-19 (Prevention and Control) Act 2020 should apply in Nevis.
The Covid-19 (Prevention and Control) Act 2020 can be found at: https://aglcskn.info/wp-content/documents/Annual-Laws/2020/ACTs/Act-16-of-2020-COVID-19-Prevention-and-Control-Act-2020.pdf
WINN also conducted initial investigations as to why the State of Emergency and new Regulations were needed to replace SRO 21 of 2021, made under the Public Health Act, that came into force on Saturday, June 12, 2021 for two weeks.
Why were they revoked on June 15, 2021, three days later?
WINN understands that the State of Emergency was declared because the Public Health Act may not have given the Minister of Health authority to implement a curfew.
The Attorney General, when answering the first question at the NEOC Covid-19 Briefing as to “why the State of Emergency?”, stated that the Covid-19 (Prevention and Control) Act 2020 specifically requires that curfews can only be imposed by way of Regulations made by the Governor-General under the Emergency Powers Act.
This leaves two open questions:
1. Why wasn’t the State of Emergency declared on Saturday, June 12, 2021, if the law is so clear?
2. Were the curfew regulations purportedly implemented by the SRO 21 of 2021 Regulations between Saturday and Tuesday unlawful?
WINN also inquired about the type of variant now present in St Kitts and Nevis and was told by CMO Dr. Hazel Laws that samples have been sent to CARPHA and officials could not say “emphatically” which variant is in circulation because they are awaiting results.
WINN asked, How are prisoners who tested positive for the coronavirus isolated?
We were told that prisoners who tested positive for the coronavirus were isolated in cells separate and apart from other prisoners
Three questions submitted to the media briefing were ignored.
Those questions were:
“With active cases on the rise, what arrangements are in place for our health care facilities and service systems -Emergency Room, hospital staff, specialists, for example; What about quarantine and isolation sites?”
Of the current confirmed cases of Covid-19, can you give a number as to how many received at least their first shot of the vaccine?
Can you explain the process of payment of fees for Covid-19 Laboratory tests for Nevis?
WINN will continue to ask questions in the public interest and hopefully we can get clear answers as we partner with agencies in the national interest.