(Caribbean360) A 24-hour curfew will go into effect tonight in Grenada, for one week in the first instance, as government steps up measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.
From 7 p.m. today until 7 p.m. on April 6, residents will have to stay at home and will only be allowed to leave to buy food on specific days, or for emergency medical care.
Health Minister Nickolas Steele, who made the announcement in an address last night, said the government had to escalate action since some residents were not adhering to the social distancing protocol.
Grenada currently has nine cases of COVID-19.
During the one-week period of the curfew, “every person shall remain confined to their place of residence (inclusive of their yard space), to avoid contact outside of their household, except as provided in the Regulations or as may be authorized in writing by the Commissioner of Police”, he said.
“This means that you are not permitted to go to the beach, go for a walk or visit your neighbour. You are only to leave for food or medical emergency, and grocery stores and shops will be open, but only on specified days.”
Under the new measure, grocery shops will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on days specified by the Commissioner of Police, and only one person from each household will be allowed to leave their residence once during a grocery day to buy groceries in their own parish. If a bus is used to transport people for that purpose, it can only carry one person per row of seats; and if a car is used, only one person other than the driver is allowed. Hired vehicles will not be allowed.
There will be no sale or consumption of alcohol in or in the vicinity of any shop, grocery store, or supermarket or in any public place
Suppliers who are approved by the Commissioner of Police will be allowed to work to supply shops which sell groceries, grocery stores on the days that those shops, grocery stores and supermarkets are open in accordance to permission given by the Commissioner of Police.
A limited state of emergency was declared last week but the Health Minister said that despite pleas to residents to stay indoors and observe social distancing, “many have ignored us”.
“What is more alarming, they have ignored the medical experts, and they have seemingly blocked out the gruesome images of the impacts of this virus that they have seen around the world. Those images alone should have been enough to show you how very dire the situation is, and that we are not to take the chances that many of you continue to take,” Steele said.
“Every time you venture outside of your house, you put yourself and others at risk. Every time you leave your house, you are in danger of getting infected or killed. Every time you break or ignore guidelines to quarantine when you have been exposed, you are potentially taking the life of one of our citizens. Maybe you are prepared to take the gamble, but unfortunately, it’s not only to your detriment. You are endangering the lives of each of us.”
Minister Steele said the new curfew will give medical authorities the necessary mechanisms to contain the very real possibility of a community spread of COVID-19, and also ensure that there is proper maintenance of supplies and services.
The other measures announced include the closure of all businesses, including restaurants and gas stations.
Hotels can remain open, but not their amenities, except takeaway from restaurants or room service. Where a hotel remains open, the staff must remain on the premises for the duration of the one-week curfew period. Hotel employers have been told they have to bear the costs of the board and lodging of such staff members.
“I am confident that where if we all do our part, for the next seven days, in the first instance, we will see the COVID-19 tide changing in our tri-island state,” Minister Steele said.