Address to the Nation by Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris
delivered at 5.30 pm on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.
“My fellow citizens and residents.
I wish to update you on the current situation and the necessary measures we are taking to protect the health of the people of our Federation. We were all saddened by the news of the recent cluster of cases of COVID-19.
At this point I wish to empathize with the parents, teachers, students and the communities impacted by the events over the last week. I appeal to the public to be sensitive to those who are affected. We should avoid naming persons, circulating photos and or disseminating any information on the affected individuals.
Ultimately we will have to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future and the most effective way of doing this will be to get yourself and your loved ones vaccinated.
My priority as your Prime Minister and leader of your Team Unity Government is to ensure the health, safety and security of every citizen and resident of this Federation.
In order to contain the spread of the deadly virus your Cabinet has accepted the following recommendations from our health professionals:
Measures To Be Undertaken
1. A curfew will be imposed from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily starting from tonight and for 14 days in the first instance to decrease the possibility of the continued spread of the virus.
2. The number of passengers on public transportation (buses, ferries etc.) will be reduced to 50 percent of established capacity. This is to facilitate physical distancing and a resultant reduction in the risk of transmission of the virus.
3. Strict adherence to non-pharmaceutical measures that is mask-wearing, sanitizing and physical and social distancing must be observed in the public and at places of business and worship. Remember your personal responsibility in this fight is of utmost importance.
4. All contact sports are suspended for the next two weeks.
5. Schools will remain closed for two weeks in the first instance to facilitate contact tracing, testing and other necessary precautions consistent with the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Act. Parents are advised to keep children safely at home.
No local examinations will be administered during this period of school closure. The Ministry of Education has already begun to engage CXC to discuss alternative arrangements for any examinations scheduled during this time.
Students, teachers and parents will be subsequently informed of the relevant decisions taken by CXC. Teachers will engage students from grades 3 and higher via the established online modality of MS Teams.
6. Absolutely no mass events will be allowed as these could be super spreader events.
7. Funerals must adhere to COVID-19 protocols and be mindful of capacity in the church.
8. Surveillance and extended contact tracing will continue.
9. Effective May 29, 2021, only fully vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry into St Kitts and Nevis until further notice. Exemptions will be considered for citizens and residents.
10. Given the importance of vaccines in the protection of persons from the worse effects of COVID-19, and in the interest of public health, we have extended the hours for administering vaccines.
Health Centres will be opened between the hours 8:00 am to 6:00 pm in St Kitts from Monday to Friday and in Nevis between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Extended hours of service will apply on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. until further notice.
Please note that vaccines are a scarce commodity globally but my Government continues to work behind the scenes to secure extra doses of vaccines so that we would have sufficient to reach a herd immunity threshold.
Our health personnel are working to quickly identify those who may need assistance. The measures we have taken and the investment that we have made in our health system are also making a difference.
Our health system has remained strong and resilient so far however we must be careful not to overwhelm it.
Importance of Vaccination
The way to avoid clusters like these is for all persons to be vaccinated.
As of yesterday, May 24, 2021, we have administered 22,278 doses of the vaccine. This means that 49 percent of the target population have already received their first jab.
I wish to at this point to commend all who stepped forward and did the right thing not to protect themselves but everyone else in this blessed Federation through vaccination. We are getting closer to our target but we need you who have not yet done so to come forward and be vaccinated.
Now is not the time for hesitancy. Now is the time to be vaccinated.
Get vaccinated now to protect yourself. Get vaccinated now to protect your loved ones. For your children to return to school and remain in school – I encourage you to get vaccinated now.
For the return of our tourism industry – I encourage you to get vaccinated now. For our businesses to have certainty so they invest and create jobs – I encourage you to get vaccinated now. For our bars and places of entertainment, DJ’s, nail and hair technicians, etc to thrive, I encourage the patrons and employees of these establishments to get vaccinated now.
All of us want to see an end to COVID-19. To come out of the shadow of COVID-19 we must all get vaccinated sooner rather than later. Now is the time to support – not slow down – our immunisation programme.
These new infections show how quickly and far COVID-19 can spread. We see how it can disrupt our schools, traumatize unsuspecting families and create anxiety in many workplaces and the broader society.
I strongly urge you to keep updated. Please get your information from official government channels or reputable sources such as the World Health Organization.
The next two weeks will be challenging, but with God’s grace, we will get through them working together constructively and responsibly.
Until our immunisation rates reach critical levels, we will continue to be vulnerable to such clusters. That is why we all need to play our part to get us closer to herd immunity. That way we can have a greater sense of security and a return to normalcy.
We must work together to contain the transmission of the virus. Our most powerful weapon in this regard is vaccination.
In this war to defeat COVID-19, all we have are ourselves working and supporting each other in doing the right thing to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The more people immunised, the less vulnerable we will be to the events like those of the last week.
Now is the time for us as a Nation to stay together, and for each of us to play our part to protect each other and to work together to see this virus off our shores.
May God bless you and your loved ones.
May He continue to bless the people of St Kitts and Nevis, favour with his grace, protection and mercy.
I Thank You.”