NDC calls for temporary lockdown - Government must be proactive and lead by example

In light of the news of our first positive case of Covid-19 which we knew was inevitable, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) notes with deep concern. Government’s lack of serious leadership in handling the pandemic as it hits home here in Grenada.

With this announcement, Grenada is now at Level 2 in the pandemic phase. As such, among other things, our authorities must ensure that we promote beneficial and preventative behaviour among the population. We must do all in our power to prevent an escalation of the virus. Therefore, there needs to be strict adherence to the guidelines and protocols by all Grenadians, including the government, who must lead by example.

One of the most critical protocols that must be adhered to, and that is being urged by the government, is that of social distancing. In our view, it is impossible for the nation to adhere to this very critical protocol if workplaces, including government offices, remain open and public transportation continues to operate. It is well known that the majority of workers in Grenada rely on public transportation to get to and from work and given the type of this transportation, it is impossible for people using it to observe the social distancing protocol on busses plying the various routes around the island. As for enclosed air-conditioned offices and other workspaces, it will also be near impossible to observe the social distancing protocol.

In this regard, NDC calls for closure of workplaces and public transportation systems for 14 days in the first instance. These closures will not include medical and healthcare workers, essential services personnel, security services, and certain state services such as immigration, disaster, meteorological and sanitation services. We recommend that employers should provide sanitized transportation for workers falling in the categories mentioned. We note that provision was made of support for bus and taxi drivers in the relief package announced by the Prime Minister last Friday but without specifics. We are also aware that much of these monetary measures will need Parliamentary approval and are therefore not cast in stone.

The NDC also urges the Government to take all necessary steps to suspend the British Airways flight scheduled to land here on Wednesday, 25th March 2020. We note that while yesterday, the Minister of Health confirmed that there may be nationals on the flight returning home to “ride out the storm”, the CMO this morning, said otherwise, that the flight is expected to land empty. The two cannot be correct and calls on the government to act in such a manner that the public can have trust and confidence in its pronouncements during this crisis. The government’s own announcement that the MBIA is now closed makes them accountable for their actions in protecting and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of citizens. Any associated cancellation fees payable by the government (and there should be none) will be a small price to pay to safeguard the lives of our people.

NDC urges the people of Grenada that while you remain calm and not panic, continue to observe all of the guidelines and protocols issued. In this crisis, remaining healthy and safe depends primarily on each individual acting responsibly.