CASTRIES – Prime Minister Allen Chastanet announced a six-hour curfew as legislators today prepared to further discuss new measures to be implemented as part of the efforts to combat the coronavirus after the island recorded its third case on Monday.
In a radio and television broadcast on Monday night, Chastanet, flanked by his Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation Minister, Guy Joseph, said that in order to legally implement the curfew, Governor General Sir Emmanuel Neville Cenac issued a proclamation Monday, instituting the state of emergency.
“Under the state of emergency, because things are fluid – things are happening very quickly, we cannot rely on the typical process of getting things changed,” Chastanet said, giving as an example, restricted items on the price list of goods.
“You would have to go to Cabinet. You would then have to go to parliament, you would then have to go through the lower and the upper house and then also be gazetted before it becomes law,” Chastanet said, adding that special authority under the state of emergency allows him to bypass the process and implement it almost immediately.
“For instance, if in fact we are not going to behave and we are seeing the kind of reckless behaviour that we have seen over the weekend, then I would have no choice but to expand the hours of our curfew,” Chastanet added.
Health authorities have also complained that people who are supposed to be in home quarantine have been seen “liming with friends”, while some individuals placed in a quarantine facility, north of here last weekend, had escaped.
The authorities said that while they had been returned there are also reports that locals had returned from Martinique in boats and entered the island at unmanned border areas.
Chastanet told the nation that while the authority is exclusively in his hands he wanted to assure all citizens that he will continue to work in consultation with the National Emergency Management Advisory Committee (NEMAC) which includes his cabinet colleagues and the Opposition Leader Phillip J. Pierre.
“My cabinet colleagues have seen that I don’t ever act as an authoritarian – I actually value their input into these decisions,” said.
Chastanet noted also that he had ahead of Tuesday’s Parliament meeting shared his notes with Pierre so that the Opposition Leader’s legal advisers could advise him in the hope for a level of collaboration.
Chastanet said the authority under the state of emergency is “absolutely required” to move quickly to change any orders that are necessary.