NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (May 21, 2020) — Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis, met with at least 30 pastors on Nevis at the Nevis Performing Arts Centre (NePac) on May 21, 2020, in an effort to address concerns from the religious sector regarding the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the reopening of churches.
The premier noted that the Nevis Island Administration is endeavouring to do its best to respond to the many challenges the virus has posed to every sector on the island.
“I have said to those of you who called me that I expect that there will be some relaxation on the issue of churches as soon as this weekend but the question of how that relaxation should look continues to be a question, and I thought as Premier of Nevis I owed it to you to have a discussion. I have invited Dr. Judy Nisbett who is her with us. She is the Head of our COVID-19 Task Force here on Nevis because they too have been trying to get a sense from the church community as to what is the best approach and what is the compromise that we can give in order to ensure that the Houses of the Lord are reopened but also to ensure that our people are kept safe,” he said.
Mr. Brantley stated that the reason he had an audience with the pastors was to discuss with them and relay their concerns to the Federal Cabinet meeting he was due to attend later the same day.
“The reason I have called this meeting this morning is because when I leave here, I go immediately to the Federal Cabinet in Basseterre, and I want to be able to say to them in St. Kitts, this is what the pastors in Nevis are saying to me…
“I am happy to see that so many of you have come and the hope would be that we can come to some understanding this morning. I think that all of us are reasonable people. I think that all of us understand the tensions and the difficulties,” he said.
Meantime, the premier assured those in attendance that the NIA wants to have a good relationship with the religious sector on the island.
“I want you to know that my government wants the best possible relationship with the church. We understand that our island needs the church. We need the presence of God in order to guide us, in order to set the tone for our country. We have COVID today, in the space of just the next 10 days we are going to have the hurricane season starting. We need you.
“So I am not here as the premier. I am here as a Nevisian, as somebody who is concerned. I am here to say, how can we work together to bring some relief to the very legitimate concerns that you have but also to give the comfort that the health professionals have been saying they need, in terms of preventing this COVID-19 from getting any foothold, now that we are seeing a bright light at the end of the tunnel in relation to the fight against COVID,” he said.
Also present was Dr. Judy Nisbett, Chairperson of the Nevis COVID-19 Task Force, who addressed the pastors and also entertained their questions.