Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 09, 2020 (SKNIS): Chairman of the National Disaster Mitigation Council, Attorney-General, Honourable Vincent Byron has made it abundantly clear that the current State of Emergency in St. Kitts and Nevis was implemented to restrict the movement of people which in turn will help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Responding to a question at the April 09 National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing regarding media personnel being placed with security officers while patrolling, the attorney-general said that there is no need for that as movement is restricted.
“The security forces will enforce the State of Emergency and they will do it properly. “It is a State of Emergency. It is not a day in the park,” said Attorney-General Byron. “We are fighting for our lives. There are those in other regions who have lost their lives and the government will do what it has to do to ensure that we protect the lives of all of our citizens as it is.”
Attorney-General Byron said that although movement is restricted, the government understands that persons will need to conduct essential business, noting that provisions were made for such.
“We have tried, through our regulations that have been established under the Emergency Powers Act to get a balance because our lives must continue albeit restricted. Our citizens must be able to eat and survive, to get their medicines and other necessary items for them to have a proper life, but these are abnormal times, very special times,” he said.
The attorney-general explained the process under which a State of Emergency can be implemented.
“We in St. Kitts-Nevis live under a constitutional democracy. The Constitution is the supreme law of our land. In the first part of the Constitution there is laid out certain rights that are spelt out in our Constitution – freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and so forth,” he said. “But there are certain provisos and those provisos are set so that those rights can be suspended on the grounds of national security in terms of public order and in this case in terms of public health. And so, when the governor-general proclaims a State of Emergency under Section 19 of The Constitution, those rights are suspended in relation to this public health crisis that we have,” said the attorney-general.
The Governor-General His Excellency S.W. Tapley Seaton proclaimed the State of Emergency which went into effect on March 28, 2020, to fight the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). During such time,. all residents are required to remain confined to their place of residence, inclusive of their yard space, to avoid contact outside of their family except in stipulated circumstances such as essential travel to the doctor, grocery store, bank, credit union, money services, business, pharmacy or to refuel vehicles – which should only occur on partial curfew days once permission is granted.