ST.LUCIA: DECRIMINIALISATION OF COVID-19 PROTOCOL BREACHES

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In a national address on Wednesday 11th August, 2021 the Prime Minister Hon. Philip J. Pierre announced that COVID-19 protocol breaches will be decriminalised. This law will be repealed at a Sitting of Parliament, the highest law-making body in the State. To date, there has been no Sitting of Parliament and as such, breaches of COVID-19 protocols are still a criminal offence and punishable by law. 

Hon. Pierre further explained that persons who had been previously arrested, charged and convicted for COVID-19 protocol breaches will have their records expunged. An appeal was made to persuade and encourage citizens to comply with the protocol guidelines instead of inflicting threats and punishment. The Prime Minister intimated that he understood the struggle of many, who have been called to do what does not come naturally, and so, there must be compassion and empathy. Together let us re-commit as a nation, with a steadfast resolve, to observe the regular washing and sanitizing of hands, social distancing, the wearing of masks in public spaces, and the avoidance of large crowd events.  To those still hesitant about taking the vaccine, we ask you to  reconsider your position, seek medical advice and help protect our nation from this deadly virus by taking the vaccine. Together we can do this; let us do it for the good benefit of ourselves, and country.

The adjusted COVID-19 protocols are in effect from 13th -31st August, 2021 in order to mitigate the threat levels to the people of Saint Lucia. 

The COVID-19 protocols are explained in detail below. However, the public is encouraged to use the hotline number 311 if they have any queries or concerns. 

The adjusted protocols for the period 13th-31s August are as follows:

1. WORKPLACE PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND BLENDED APPROACH

All agencies and businesses are advised to encourage Physical Distancing in the workplace. A Blended Service and Operations Approach of working in office and from home may be implemented for employees where necessary. There should be  encouragement of large staff and board meetings being held virtually/online platform.              Separate provisions apply for necessary sectors e.g. Essential Services, Construction,                      Manufacturing, Call Centres, etc.

2. CURFEW RESTRICTIONS AND BUSINESS OPERATING HOURS

  • A curfew of 9:00PM – 4:00 AM is to be implemented and thoroughly enforced.
  • All business operations and commercial activities must end by 8:00PM daily, as guided by curfew enforced through the State of Emergency.
  • This requires all businesses – including supermarkets and restaurants – to completely shut its doors and business activities by 8:00PM in order to curb movement past 9:00PM.  
  • Separate provisions apply for necessary sectors e.g. Essential Services, Construction, Manufacturing, Call centers, Certified Hotel Employees, etc.

3. (a) RESTRICTIONS ON SOCIAL GATHERING

  • Social Gatherings are to be restricted to immediate households and family limited to ten

(10) people.

  • In private settings, individuals are required to limit their contact as much as possible to family and adhere to all the necessary protocols and general hygiene procedures. 
  • No loud music permits to be issued for the three (3) week  period.

3. (b) THE CHURCH – Limited to Square Footage for Regular Services

  • All daily or regular church and religious services are permitted in accordance with social distancing protocols. 
  • Religious institutions may carry out services according to the square footage of the church.

This is guided by each institution’s guidelines and protocols approved by the Ministry of Health.   

  • Special religious rites, including Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals will be limited to one hundred (100) individuals (inclusive of observers and the service leaders). Funeral and wedding services are by invitation only. Dates of burial services are not to be formally advertised. 

3. (c) SPECIAL EVENTS

  • No allowance is given for gatherings and special events for the three (3) week period
  • Neither vaccinated or unvaccinated people are allowed to host or attend any social activities including but not limited to parties, boat rides, receptions etc. 
  • No loud music permits to be issued for the three (3) week  period.
  • No formal submissions of “request to host” social events will be processed for the three

(3) week period

4. (a) SPORTING ACTIVITY INCLUDING GYMS – Uncontrolled

  • All sports are allowed for the given time period limited to field capacity and game structure.

No spectators or crowding allowed at this time.

  • Gyms are approved to operate in keeping with all necessary protocol and capacity limited by square footage.
  • Special permission may be granted for training athletes requiring one-on-one coaching/training for contact sports, selective competitions and sporting associated    community engagements.

4. (b) SPORTING ACTIVITY – Controlled Events

  • Controlled sporting events approved by the Ministry of Health are allowed at this time. Participant and operational personnel quotas will be established on an individual basis.
  • Formal submission of “request to host” sporting events to the necessary authorities inclusive of staff  list at least fourteen (14) days prior for approval by Ministry of Health.
  • Special consideration may be granted for spectators.The spectator capacity will be based on the event and other conditions stipulated by Ministry of Health.
  • Fully vaccinated* (both doses issued at least 2 weeks prior to event)

5. Facilitation of Education

  • All Educational Institutions will operate as per established school hours.
  • School operation for the new academic year will be assessed at the middle of August based on the transmission rate and final decision on which schools will operate fully or use the     alternate days approach will be specified.
  • The optional modalities explored:
  • 1. Full reopening of all educational institutions 
  • 2. Whole school & alternate day schooling based on physical infrastructure and student population as determined by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. 

6. RESTRICTIONS ON TOURISM OPERATIONS

  • Present protocols for Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Sector are adjusted as follows for this time.
  • No local stay at COVID approved properties where unvaccinated visitors are accommodated.
  • All boat rides are prohibited for the three (3) week period.
  • Alternate days for local and tourist service at parks, restaurants, etc. are to be maintained for this period.
  • An ongoing assessment and other measures will be implemented as per consultation with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism to be finalized Friday 13th August 2021.

End.

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