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Opposition Leader calls on government to impose curfew to help stop spread of Covid-19

Opposition Leader calls on government to impose curfew to help stop spread of Covid-19

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A curfew must be seriously considered by the government as it takes steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 locally.

Dr Godwin Friday, the opposition leader was responding to a question posed by New Times programme host, Bert Francois on Monday, when he shared this view on the implementation of a curfew in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Health officials recently declared that there is now community transmission of the virus, with some of the cases being clustered in small families and small social groups, including patrons of gambling sheds and small rum shops.

“That is not a revelation to anybody. They were just making themselves look silly by suggesting it’s somehow spreading in the community but it’s not to be called community spread,” Friday said, while noting that this is the time when more serious measures are needed to get the situation under control.

Following the announcement, several measures were enforced, one of which was the strict enforcement of mass gathering protocols, with special emphasis being paid to bars, gambling sheds and rum shops.

Under the current protocols, only 10 persons at a time are allowed at an indoor gathering.

The opposition leader noted that while a shop may be limited to only 10 persons at a time, the possibility exists for 100 people to pass through that bar in one evening, even with the limitations.

“I think it’s a situation now that we have to consider that (a curfew) as an option. It’s unfortunate that we’ve gotten to this point and a lot of it has to do with the failure of the government to really respond effectively to what was happening, what they saw happening. This is something that many have cautioned them about, but they have not been taking it seriously for whatever reason,” Friday, the president of the New Democratic Party (NDP) said on Monday.

The NDP also issued a release this week, addressing the recent COVID-19 measures that were implemented in light of the new categorisation of community transmission.

The party, in its release, accused the government of being slow and indecisive in combating the spread of the virus.

The release also said that calls made by Friday for more effective measures, which included the mandatory mask wearing in public spaces and provisions for more isolation facilities, were “rejected out of hand and even ridiculed by members of the government”.

“The recent announcement by the Ministry of Health to admit the reality of community spread and to make wearing of masks in public places mandatory and restrict the numbers of persons in public transport vehicles, rum shops and restaurants shows a reversal of the government’s position. Though late, the announcement is a step in the right direction as the measures, if properly enforced, can reduce the spread of the disease,” the release, dated February 9, said.

The NDP made a call for the government to be more decisive and proactive and to provide financial support to van operators, in an effort to promote compliance with public transportation restrictions and to ensure the continuation of the service.

“We also continue to call on everyone to follow the protocols and to be responsible in this time of crisis. Because of the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, we have an obligation to one another to do all we can to combat its spread,” the release said. “We must continue to wash or sanitize our hands regularly, practice physical distancing and wearing of masks when in public, and staying at home as much as we can. Let us be safe.”