(St. Lucia News Online) — Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has explained the reason behind his government’s elevation of the State of Emergency to a 24-hour curfew for the next seven days without giving anyone a chance to go shopping.
Chastanet announced in a live broadcast to the nation on Tuesday evening that the island will be placed under 24-hour curfew effective 5 a.m. on April 1, 2020. The previous curfew started at 8 p.m. and lasted until 5 a.m. and the one before that was from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Some St. Lucians have responded negatively to the prime minister’s announcement, saying that they should have been given adequate time to stock up on food and other essentials in preparation for the 24-hour shutdown.
However, the prime minister said in a Facebook message, shortly after his national address, that adequate notice would cause a “mass rush” to purchase goods and further spread the virus which the authorities have confirmed is now being spread in the local community after 4 new cases were confirmed on Tuesday,
He said: “It has become absolutely necessary to elevate our State of Emergency to a 24-hour shutdown for the next 7 days, until April 7th, 2020.
“The tough decision to close supermarkets with immediate effect is due to the fact that we are currently experiencing community spread of COVID-19. By allowing supermarkets to remain open even if for just one more day, would defeat the purpose of Social Distancing as there will be a mass rush to purchase goods possibly allowing for further spread of the virus.
“During this time, only Essential services can operate with written permission from the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO). NEMO will also be responsible for supplying food to the elderly and poor during this time.
“I understand that many of you may be uncomfortable with the sudden implementation of this decision, however this temporary inconvenience is for the greater good of the entire nation.
“Contact information for NEMO is (758) 452-3802.”
Thirteen cases of COVID-19 have already been confirmed in Saint Lucia. One patient has recovered and two have been repatriated.