(St. Lucia News Online) — “Breaking news from 759: 758ers, please be advised that a VISA is required to come to 759. Fill in the attached visa application form below”.
This is a line from a meme, one of several that have been in circulation making fun of the United Workers Party (UWP) government’s action to divide the island into two zones in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Zone 1 includes: Gros Islet, Babonneau, Castries North, Castries Central, Castries East, Castries South East, Castries South, Anse La Raye, and Dennery, and Zone 2 includes: Canaries, Soufriere, Choiseul, Laborie, Vieux Fort, Micoud, and Praslin.
While the memes may sound amusing to some, it is not to others. In fact, Vieux Fort North Member of Parliament (MP) Moses Jn Baptiste has taken issue with the zoning system, saying it has caused an actual negative division in the country, especially during the pandemic.
In a Facebook statement, the former agriculture minister describes the system as “another bad decision of a vindictive UWP government exposed”.
“COVID-19, a ravaging storm on a deadly mission, continues to expose the incompetence and vindictiveness of the UWP administration on a daily basis. It is as if, no one could escape and no fancy talk can be used to hide or export the evidence of the incompetence of the government,” he wrote.
Baptiste, who is also the chairman of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and SLP spokesman for health, agriculture, fisheries, and food production, went on to say: “The Administration Complex Project in Vieux Fort was designed to create intimate access to critical central government services in Vieux Fort. Dr. Kenny Anthony always reminded Saint Lucians of the frequent isolation of communities to services during a disaster. The north and south of the island, disconnected often, because of our unique topography and road network. He actually spoke thoughts to that effect during the sod-turning ceremony for the Administration Complex. Today, the UWP has actually divided our country during this pandemic into north and south, with police checkpoints. The examples keep coming every day, vindictive decisions coming back to bite in the backside!”
But according to the authorities, the zoning system — which came into effect Tuesday, April 7 when the curfew was adjusted from 24 hours to 10 hours — is meant to prevent overcrowding at business places.
Persons were instructed to remain in their respective zones to complete business transactions and police checkpoints ensured that this action was enforced.
“The aim is to have persons remain in their zones so that we can limit the spread of COVID-19,” Acting Police Commissioner Milton Desir is quoted as saying in a Voice Newspaper report.
St. Kitts-Nevis has also implemented a similar zoning system to hopefully help stop the spread of the virus.
While some Saint Lucians welcome the development there are also some who have been negatively affected by it.
A member of the public contacted St. Lucia News Online earlier this week about the issue. The person was getting desperate.
“I just wanted to know when will we be able to go down south? It has been one month and I haven’t been able to go home. Are there any buses that have the authority to do so?” the person asked.
Only time will tell.