by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis still has COVID-19 protocols to help fight against the spread of the virus.
Currently, those very same protocols have been a part of the national debate as citizens and residents are gearing up to go back to the polls to elect a new government two years after the last administration was voted into office.
The protocols still require returning nationals who are vaccinated to self-isolate, and those unvaccinated individuals will have to quarantine for seven days. Proof of a negative test and vaccination still applies.
The protocols are now being questioned because overseas voters may be interested in coming back to the Federation to cast their ballot.
In a recent statement, Dr. Terrance Drew, Political Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), has suggested that the protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic be removed.
Dr. Drew specifically called on Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris to remove all travel restrictions and allow citizens to return to St. Kitts and Nevis for pleasure, business, or the upcoming elections.
The statement implied that there would be “serious consequences” if the Prime Minister used the existence of these protocols to impede or prevent citizens from coming home to vote.
The statement reads, “The right to vote and participate in the democratic process is sacrosanct. Every Kittitian and Nevisian, whether residing in the Federation or overseas, has a right to take part in the upcoming elections. Dr. Harris and his cabinet of three elected members will not be allowed to use administrative means to prevent and deny citizens of their democratic right to vote!” Dr. Drew stated.
The Political Leader observed that over the last few weeks, he and his party had been engaged in intense consultations with individuals and groups representing nationals living in the Diaspora who expressed serious concerns and anxiety that the online pre-approval process was going to be used as a means of excluding them from returning home to vote.
“What Kittitians and Nevisians who may be resident overseas want to know, as well as those who may have travelled overseas on vacation or for study, is that when the election date is set, they will be able to make their preparations to travel to their homeland to perform their democratic and constitutional duty: to elect a government of their choosing! That is their democratic right. No Prime Minister and his cabal should take away that right from them under the guise of public health measures which do not now exist in any other CARICOM country,” Dr. Drew concluded.
The statement argued that SKN’s vaccination coverage was the reasoning for the removal of the protocols saying, “82.8 percent of adults vaccinated and the admission by the Chief Medical Officer on March 1, 2022, there is a “high threshold of population immunity” that has been built up to buffer against even the most highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus, as well as the recent arrival of antiviral and therapeutic medications and tools on the global market, all point to the fact St. Kitts and Nevis is in the strongest possible position to learn how to live with COVID-19 and put an end to government regulation.”
The World Health Organization also reported at the start of 2022 that restrictions on travel “do not provide added value” to justify the continued restriction of movement and the negative impacts the regulations have had by adding economic and social stress on citizens.
The statement ended by suggesting that lifting the existing protocols would also spur economic activity, boost tourism and allow citizens to move freely “as is their right so to do”.