BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, August 3, 2020 (MMS-SKN) — The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has done all that is humanly possible to keep at bay the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic but Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris is reminding everyone not to take the pandemic for granted, as it is still there.
Dr Harris, who made the remarks on Sunday, August 2, also advised that the government intends to further open up the economy by having curfew hours start at 2:00 am as opposed to the current 12:00 midnight start time until 4:59 am the following day, as per SRO No. 37 of 2020 Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (No.12) Regulations.
“We are contemplating for next weekend we shall go down to 2:00 am,” announced the Prime Minister. “At least you will have a bit more time because we know how time can fly, and some people really enjoy late dinners and so we want you to go out, enjoy yourself but at the same time minimise the risks by wearing your masks, sanitise your hands and do all those things because you see now that the response to Covid-19 is really common sense.”
Prime Minister Harris made the announcement when he addressed worshippers at the Temple in Dieppe Bay where he had led leadership and membership of the Peoples Labour Party (PLP) for praise and worship following Team Unity’s overwhelming win at the June 5 General Election.
Accompanying the Prime Minister, who is also the National Political Leader of the PLP, included the Minister of Health and Deputy Political Leader of the PLP the Hon Akilah Byron-Nisbett, Team Unity Caretaker for Constituency Number Six, and Chairman of the PLP Constituency Number Six Executive Branch Captain Kevin ‘Ninky’ Williams, and Deputy Speaker Senator the Hon Dr Bernicia Nisbett.
“Protect yourselves,” implored Dr Harris. “Put on the mask, the cloth, for as long as you can. I know it can be difficult – sometimes you feel like it is stiffening you. You take it off a little bit, some people will talk but you are preserving your life. But for as long as you can, you endure it. You are only really required to do it when you go out in public. At home you are okay, and that is to protect you and to protect others around you by the wearing of the mask and the insistence on sanitisation.”
The service was led by Apostle Eugene Springette and also in attendance were members of the Peoples Labour Party National Executive, National Secretary Ms Myrtilla Williams, Deputy National Chairman Mr Craig Tuckett, and PLP National Women Representative Mrs Sonia Henry; and leadership and membership the various PLP Constituency Branch Executives. Also present was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Mr William Vincent Hodge.
“And I want to remind us, even though we have been blessed and favoured, not to take the pandemic for granted – it is still there,” said the Honourable Prime Minister who noted that the Federation’s best bet will be when a vaccine is developed. He told the congregation that there is some good news that the vaccine may be coming closer to the end of the year, and noted that if that will be so, that will be good, but advised people against chancing faith.
As a result of the pandemic, according to Dr Harris who is also the Minister of Finance, inflows of cash into the government treasury have been greatly reduced and giving the example of the month of April he said Government collected about $3 million from Inland Revenue, yet last year for the same period Government had collected $26 million.
“For the year so far we probably would have collected just about half of what we would for the comparative period last year because Covid-19 has had the impact,” advised the Prime Minister. “No departure tax, no accommodation tax, no levy, because if people are not working then these things can’t be paid, and yet your government has been able to do all the things we have been able to do so far without borrowing one red cent.”
He further advised: “And it is because we have managed the country very well and we want to continue to do it – saving, taking the message from our great grandmothers and the great grandfathers. No matter how small it is, we to practise to put something aside for the rainy day. Put aside something small and try to do it regularly because we do not know the day nor the hour when circumstances will change.”