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New COVID-19 Prevention and Control Bill To Ensure A More Permanent Solution To Public Safety

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Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The new COVID-19 (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2020, which received its first reading in National Assembly on October 15, will ensure a more permanent solution to public safety when it passes.

“This Bill is intended to replace the Emergency Powers COVID-19 Regulations and provide a more permanent legal framework to regulate the containment of the spread of COVID-19 in the Federation,” said Superintendent of Police Cromwell Henry at the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Briefing for October 21, 2020. “The main provisions of the COVID-19 Regulations which we are quite familiar with will form part of this new Bill.”

All ports of entry, as well as stakeholders within the tourism sector, will also be guided by the COVID-19 (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2020.

“It will also give legal effect to all the protocols that will be implemented at our air and sea ports for incoming travelers and at our hotels and other tourism sites. There will be a strict regime of COVID-19 inspections and certification for all major sectors of our economy – our hotels, taxi and tour operators, sea transportation and boating sector, tourism-related sites and educational institutions,” he said. “All sectors will be required to satisfactorily show that they can safely operate in a manner that significantly minimizes risk to public health.”

Superintendent Henry touched briefly on the Compliance Task Force, noting that a “critical and important component” to the Federation’s “efforts to prevent the spread will be compliance.”

“Therefore, the law makes provisions for a compliance team and has given this team broad authority to enter businesses, enterprises and offices to ensure compliance with the provisions of the law. The compliance team is also empowered to monitor all social events to ensure that these events have the necessary approvals from the Commissioner of Police and are complying with the terms and conditions of such approval,” he said.

Equally important, there is also protection for the team. As mandated by law, anyone who obstructs a member of the National COVID-19 Task Force or the Compliance Task Force will be liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000.

As St. Kitts and Nevis prepares for the October 31 official reopening of the borders, Superintendent Henry encouraged citizens and residents to adopt the non-pharmaceutical interventions such as wearing a mask, practicing good hygiene and sanitization habits and observing social and physical distancing protocols. These, he said, should keep everyone safe.

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