We cannot afford to turn back the hands of time: Borders remain closed, advises PM Harris

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, May 29, 2020 (PLP PR Media Inc.) — Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, in reiterating his government’s stand on closure of the country’s borders, done as part of Covid-19 fight, has advised they will remain so as they were closed to protect lives.

“Today as you listen to the world, in relation to Covid-19, you can’t help but feel that St. Kitts and Nevis is a blessed country,” observed Dr Harris. “You can’t help but feel that God has blessed you with a Team Unity Government for such a time like this. If it were not for our Team Unity Government, St. Kitts and Nevis would have buckled under the pressure of Covid-19.”

Prime Minister Harris who was addressing a Team Unity virtual public meeting on Thursday evening May 28 noted that St. Kitts and Nevis had its fifteen infected persons nicely recovered and would not take any chance by opening the borders.

“We cannot afford to turn back the hands of time,” he stressed. “I know they are going on crazy out there and they can’t behave themselves, but we are not going back to that place from whence we came.” He gave the example of a country in the OECS which after it would have declared it had no more cases it suddenly recorded seven new Covid-19 cases.

“I will not chance it,” he declared. “We worked too hard – you had your lockdowns, and we start now to open up piece by piece, little by little hoping for the best not to overwhelm our health system.” He reminded that the government started by allowing two days of limited operations, moved to four, then five and now the country is enjoying seven days of limited operations.

At the virtual public meeting which was chaired by Team Unity’s Candidate for St. Christopher Three, Senator Akilah Byron-Nisbett, the Honourable Prime Minister said the government would not throw back, after having come so far, by giving in to demands of the opposition who are bent in bringing thousands of people who might end up leaving infections that would end up overwhelming the health system.

The borders of St. Kitts and Nevis are closed to protect those who are here. The Prime Minister however noted that those who are compelled to come for any reason, they would be subjected to fourteen days in quarantine and would not be allowed to go to anybody’s house or even enter somebody’s car. After the fourteen days they would be tested and if found positive, they would be put in further lockdown.

He advised there is one rule that the borders are closed and government is not discriminating, and reminded that when Cuban doctors came in to help the country as it intensified its Covid-19 fight, they were all quarantined for fourteen days. The same applied to students who came back from Jamaica. For their own protection and the protection of others, the students were also put under fourteen-day quarantine.

“I want to say thanks to all of you, thanks for your support over the last five years,” said the Honourable Prime Minister. “None of us envisaged that at the tail end we will have a pandemic of a lifetime. There is no template by which to guide us but God’s grace – God’s grace has anchored us with excellent leadership at this time, and we are doing very well but we must not tempt faith.”

He however noted that faith can be tempted if government opens the borders callously to hundreds and thousands of people coming from hot spots like Miami, New Jersey, New York, London, and Italy. He recommended that those people should remain wherever they are, and follow the rules of their respective countries.

“Wherever you are, please keep safe,” recommended the Prime Minister. “Abide by the rules of President Trump in the USA, abide by the rules of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in England, abide by the rules in Italy, and abide by the rules in Taiwan. We wish you well, and if we could help in any way we will certainly help you, but for this time, as a result of the pandemic; as a result of our need to protect the people here; as a result of our love and caring, we say to you – We love you wherever you are but our borders are closed.”

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