The Keith Mitchell-led government has announced another extension of the State of Emergency until the middle of next year in the fight against the deadly Covid-19 virus.
Another phase of the State of Emergency which took effect on May 21, was due to expire on November 20 but as the government begins to shift its focus on striking a balance between co-existing with and managing the pandemic, it is seeking to extend the State of Emergency to May 27, 2022.
This will be done during a special sitting of both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament on November 2 and November 4.
Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing, Health and Social Security Minister Nickolas Steele omitted the government’s intention to extend the State of Emergency, when he announced a 2-hour easement in the nightly curfew, which will now be from 9.00 p.m. to 4.00 a.m. with effect from Thursday, among other adjustments to the COVID-19 regulations.
However, he indicated that changes will be made once the COVID and healthcare situation in the country improves.
Chartered boats and cinemas are now among the businesses that can now reopen subject to 6 feet physical distancing and in keeping with regulation 10, which requires employers, employees, and patrons to have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Senior Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Myanna Charles had previously indicated that persons are still exposed to the virus, as the “level of immunity or protection is not significant with just one dose (of the vaccine),” as she called on persons to come forward and get fully vaccinated.
In announcing the adjustments, the Health Minister did not mandate a specific time for businesses to close, which is left to be determined by employers who are expected to use good judgment to ensure that workers get home before the 9.00 p.m. curfew.
He said that churches across the island can now facilitate in-house weddings and funerals with a maximum of 20 persons in attendance and that “permission can be sought based on the religious institution for numbers above 20 persons.”
And while hospital visitations can resume, the Health Minister said this will be done under “the discretion of the hospital management,” while restrictions remain in place for visitation to elderly homes.
There is now no time limit on the access to beaches, which Minister Steele indicated can now be accessed outside of the curfew hours for swimming and exercise only.
These adjustments follow a significant decline in the Covid-19 positivity rate, which dropped to 2.3% during the week of October 19 – 25.
During Wednesday’s media engagement, Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Shawn Charles reiterated the call for Grenadians to get vaccinated and not become complacent, noting that “cases will spike if we create the conditions for this to occur.”
“We can expect to have a low-level spread of infection for some time…levels will be kept manageable if we do the right things (but) hospitalisation and death, however, will continue at some level for some time because as you are aware at least about 75% of our population remains unvaccinated,” he told reporters.
As the Grenada government moves into a new phase of its COVID-19 management strategy with the realisation that coronavirus would remain in the society for a long time, health officials say greater attention will be placed on striking a balance between co-existing with and managing the spread of the deadly virus, and the full resumption of economic activities.
Press Secretary Philomena Robinson announced that government has reconstituted the COVID-19 sub-committee to serve as an advisory body to the Cabinet going forward, with Economist and Parliamentary representative for St. Patrick West, Anthony Boatswain as the new Chairman, replacing Bert Brathwaite, who resigned from the post last week.
Other new additions to the COVID-19 sub-committee include Dr. Myanna Charles, Medical Director of Hospitals, Dr. Thyiesha Donald, and representative of the hospitality sector Adele Garbutt-De Caul, who is the Owner & Company Director at the Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel.
The other members making up the COVID-19 sub-committee are Dr. Shawn Charles, President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey, Commissioner of Police, Edvin Martin, Attorney General Dia Forrester, Minister for Legal Affairs, and Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, Kindra Maturine-Stewart, and former Chief Medical Officer Dr. George Mitchell.