Opposition leader calls for Government to close schools
Opposition Leader, Dr Godwin Friday is making a call for schools to be closed effective immediately as a means to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
This is one of several measures that Friday suggests the Government implement in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to not only stem the spread of the virus but also to reduce the risk of illness.
“Close all schools effective immediately and schedule reopening, at the earliest, after the normal Easter vacation ending April 13, 2020, during which time the decision should be reviewed,” Friday said in a press release dated March 15.
He noted that Caribbean countries where there are reported cases of the virus, including Antigua, St Lucia, Jamaica, Montserrat and St Maarten have all closed schools and restricted public gatherings.
The opposition further noted that school has been closed and public gatherings restricted in Grenada, where there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 presently.
“Emphasis is being placed on what is referred to as social distancing to reduce the risk of catching and transmitting the virus. I urge that similar, stricter measures be implemented here in SVG…” the release said.
In the release, Friday also suggests that public gatherings of more than 100 persons be suspended and that Police should cease to give or cancel permission for public gatherings involving over 100 persons.
On Saturday, March 14, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that he was considering cutting departure tax by half as a means of attracting more persons within the region to travel to SVG.
But Friday suggests that this travel incentive be suspended.
The opposition leader also wants the the Government to urge public transport providers to sanitize their vehicles regularly, urge employers to permit employees who can do so to work from home and suspend cruise ship visits to this country for the remainder of the season.
Another measure that is being suggested is to “require travellers from the USA and the UK to be in home quarantine for 14 days and discourage foreign travel by Vincentians living in SVG until further notice”.
Friday also suggests that the Government consult with financial institutions including the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, the IMF and the World Bank to develop an economic relief package to respond to the economic hardship resulting in SVG from the pandemic.
In the release, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) noted that his party has been holding public meetings in villages across the country for the past three months.
He said more meetings were planned but “in light of the recent developments locally and internationally concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, including the confirmation of one COVID-19 case in SVG, I have taken the decision to suspend the meetings and other large gatherings until further notice”.
SVG has only one confirmed case of COVID-19.