PR – Fellow Grenadians, during the past two weeks, we have witnessed the realisation of our worst fears. After successfully keeping COVID-19 at bay for much of the past 18 months, with our stringent border protocols, the virus is now spreading rapidly among Grenadians. Up until now, we’ve had front row seats as the drama unfolded in countries near and far, but now, our country, our people, our closest relatives and dear friends, are embroiled in this unrelenting odyssey that has brought death and suffering to so many people around the world.
This week, four families were thrust into mourning as they lost loved ones to COVID-19, despite the best efforts of the medical team to administer treatment after they were hospitalised for care relating to their positive diagnosis and underlying medical conditions. Tonight, I extend deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. I pray that the Lord strengthens you in your time of grief.
My friends, this is the sad reality of the COVID-19 pandemic – it comes, not like a thief in the night, but like an acquaintance, who befriends you, then slowly, or in some cases, rapidly begins to take control of your life, smothering the air that you breathe and leaving you lifeless. Harsh, but real.
Thankfully, our hard-working health care team has managed thus far to successfully treat and discharge the majority of COVID-19 patients. With increased hospitalisations and persons presenting with more severe symptoms, we pray for their continued ability to save lives.
The COVID-19 situation in Grenada has deteriorated rapidly. Daily statistics from the Ministry of Health show that we have moved from the occasional identification of positive cases to daily additions of new cases, sometimes in excess of 100 per day. The medical experts have confirmed that we are now at the stage of community spread. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is now nearing 1,000, with more than 600 active cases. There’s no telling where the next case will be recorded. It could be you, it could be me, it could be a beloved family member or friend; we are all at risk.
In light of the recent developments and in furtherance of containment measures previously announced, the curfew will be implemented from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily, effective September 4, 2021.
There will be no inter-island travel between Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Anyone permitted through exemption to travel between the islands, must take a rapid antigen test before departure. The Maurice Bishop International Airport and the commercial ports of entry remain open. Government is continuing to examine the entry protocols, relative to the quarantine period
but it must be appreciated that any decision taken, will require advance notice to travel industry stakeholders and holiday-seekers.
The situation is dire and clearly, it cannot be business as usual. While there will be continuity of operations in some sectors including the public service, statutory bodies and state-owned enterprises, manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail grocery, banking, transportation, agriculture and fisheries, it has become necessary to implement closures in non-essential sectors to help limit the movement of people and curb the spread of the virus.
Closures will include daycare centres, salons, barbershops, gyms and indoor entertainment facilities. Schools will offer virtual classes only. St. George’s University will continue operations, with strict adherence to the protocols.
Doctors, dentists, veterinarians, accountants, lawyers and insurance companies are permitted to operate by appointment only. Pharmacies and hardware stores remain open for pick-up and delivery services only.
All social activities, sporting events and weddings have been suspended. Funerals are permitted but are restricted to one hour between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and noon. Beach access is limited to 5:00 to 10:00 a.m. daily.
The debushing programme which created jobs for thousands of daily paid workers across the country, will be suspended for two weeks, starting Monday, September 6. We recognise that this will be a hard-hitting measure for some of our most vulnerable citizens, but it is one that has become necessary.
Additionally, no movement days will be enforced from 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 10 to 5:00 a.m. on Monday, 13 and again from Friday, 17 to Monday 20. During these no-movement days, the Ministry of Health will facilitate greater access to testing and vaccination within communities. No movement will be permitted, except for purposes of testing and vaccination.
The full list of updated regulations will be shared after this address. These measures will remain in place for the next two weeks in the first instance. However, the pandemic remains fluid and we will continue to review response mechanisms and make the necessary adjustments.
The pandemic has presented a steep learning curve for countries all over the world. In the past 18 months, we have learnt valuable lessons from the actions taken, modifying where necessary to maintain the public health and safety objectives. Therefore, our containment strategy has evolved to ensure that we protect our fragile fiscal position through continued economic activity while safe
guarding the continued physical, mental and emotional well-being of our citizens.
Government applauds the announcement by the religious community to resort to virtual services for the next two weeks. We welcome this initiative and ongoing collaboration with critical stakeholders. I express gratitude too, to members of the business community and the trade union movement who have been engaged this week in consultation with the Government, examining strategic moves to deal with this crisis. I urge that you continue to appropriately guide your membership going forward. Effectively dealing with this pandemic requires us to have all hands on deck and Government welcomes all strategic partnerships.
Sisters and brothers, although our borders remain open, the current rate of infections could negatively impact travelers wishing to visit our country. Grenada is now on the UK’s green watch list, meaning that we are at risk of being moved to the amber list which stipulates quarantine measures for their returning nationals, a deterrent to leisure travel that will affect visitor arrivals and further impact the hospitality sector. Additionally, Grenada could lose its coveted Level 1 rating by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
I want to remind you that as citizens, we have the power to stop COVID-19. We can control it through responsible actions, restricting our own movement, wearing a mask or appropriate face covering in public spaces, maintaining our physical distance and washing or sanitising our hands frequently. Easy steps, which, if followed consistently by everyone, can immediately stem the current trend.
These basic protocols could ultimately mean the difference between life and death, as they help to protect you from contracting the virus. As a responsible citizen of this country, I have been doing my part and I am prepared to continue doing so, are you?
The time will come for us to do a deep dive, a thorough analysis of Grenada’s COVID’s experience. For now, our priority must be on achieving absolute unity in the fight against this unseen enemy. Our energies must be singularly focused on navigating through the current crisis and I cannot stress enough, the importance of doing so collectively.
I call on all leaders within the community – church, business, trade union, political, sports, culture, social and other media influencers – just about everyone who has a sphere of influence over any sector of the society, let us please put aside personal and organisational differences and join hands in working towards promoting and achieving the behavioural change that will ultimately protect our people. We have a moral responsibility to do this.
COVID-19 is no respecter of class or affiliation. As it goes lurking through our communities, finding refuge as it travels indiscriminately from one body to the next, it poses a threat to us all, a clear and present danger to the healthy, wealthy and the most vulnerable. But in the midst of the threat, a pathway is illuminated, created by a mix of individual and shared responsibility.
My friends, this crisis is not insurmountable. As a people, we are battle-tested and resilient. We can and we will get through this, together.
I reiterate here, the appeal made for volunteers to help support the work of the Ministry of Health as it undertakes surveillance and vaccination efforts throughout the country. Help us to help you and together, we will help all of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
The pandemic has created a financial and emotional rollercoaster, straining the human spirit to near breaking point. The fatigue is inescapable, but our frontline team continues to deliver daily and tonight, I salute them for the yeoman service being provided in healthcare, national security and other areas of critical importance.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you as you continue to execute your duties during these difficult times. I acknowledge here the current challenges facing the Royal Grenada Police Force as it deals with the impact of COVID-19 among its ranks. We wish those affected, a speedy recovery and assure you of Government’s full support.
At Her Majesty’s Prison, we recognise the commitment and agility of the management team to maintaining the recommended protocols, particularly as it relates to intake procedures and quickly arresting a potential outbreak.
In closing, I encourage everyone to strive as far as possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Do your regular health checks. I’ve just done mine and thankfully, I have been given a clean bill of health. Maintain a healthy diet, using the wide variety of organic produce available here, boosting your immunity with daily supplements. And of course, engage in regular exercise. Now more than ever, a healthy you, is critically important.
And finally, sisters and brothers, I pray for God’s continued guidance. I pray that his enduring mercies are bestowed on this nation and its people
Stay safe everyone. Be COVID-smart, protect yourselves and your loved ones. I thank you.