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Announcement of Limited State of Emergency: 25 March 2020

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National Address by Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister, Grenada

Fellow Grenadians,

I address you yet again, on the serious health challenges presented by the emergence of Covid-19, this time compounded by some incomprehensible behaviour.

Glued to our television screens and other sources of information, we have seen how this pandemic has gripped the world. First in Wuhan, China, then to countries in Europe, to Australia, to the United States – almost every country in the world has reported cases of this virus. Yet we seem not to fully grasp the magnitude of the threat before us.

We have seen in the most graphic detail how healthcare systems in the most developed and advanced countries of the world have been falling apart and collapsing under the weight of this virus. Still, some of us fail to recognise or appreciate the gravity of the situation facing us.

We have witnessed dozens of patients lying in corridors in hospitals in Spain, and some of us continue with business as usual. Hundreds dying in Italy; funerals suspended, and the army called in to remove bodies…but some of us totally ignore this eventuality.

Fellow Grenadians, our country is facing this unprecedented public health threat.

On Sunday, we discovered our first laboratory confirmed case of Covid-19. The patient is now stable, and the healthcare officials continue to monitor her condition.

The implication of this disease in our population is that urgent and immediate action is required to identify and curb the spread.

In our attempt to do so, we have closed our borders. Our Ministry of Health has called for a change in our cultural and social practices; introduced measures like social distancing; and appealed to the reasoning of people’s consciousness.

Sadly, dear citizens, many have ignored these appeals. Grenadians returning home, and other visitors to our shores, have failed to comply with the voluntary requests to self-quarantine; and people can be seen up and down the country, carrying on as though these are normal times; but they are not.

At this stage, with the presence of the disease circulating within the population, and based on medical scientific projections, if we fail to give effect to the serious steps required to contain, curtail, identify and isolate this virus, Grenada will pay a significant price.

Moreover, many are using this crisis as an opportunity to play politics, or to peddle rumour, thus causing unnecessary fear and panic among the population. Sisters and brothers, this is not the time. There are no heroes in war; and make no mistake, this is a war, and the enemy is Covid-19.

Again, I urge you to listen only to the official sources such as the Government of Grenada, and in particular, the Ministry of Health, for your regular updates. Friends, as a government, we have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by withholding critical information from you, the general public.

No one is immune to this disease. That is why we must all act and react responsibly.

Against that backdrop, fellow citizens, I am compelled to recommend the declaration of a limited State of Emergency, in order to give the medical authorities the necessary mechanism by which we can enforce stemming the community spread of the Covid-19 virus.

In this regard, therefore, I am asking the Governor-General to declare a limited State of Emergency in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, for the next 21 days.

This will take effect from 6 pm today, and will put a limit on a wide range of normal activities.

Citizens will be allowed, between the hours of 5 am and 7 pm, to leave their homes only to conduct certain designated activities.

In the United Kingdom, where the disease is now galloping at a significant pace, and from where our first case and most other cases now in the Caribbean have come, there are now limitations and new sweeping powers given to the police. The restrictions there call for everyone to avoid contact as much as possible.

What we are doing in Grenada is nothing less; but necessary in the battle against this dreadful disease.

Friends, these measures are not meant to punish anyone, but they are designed to ensure that this disease does as little damage as possible, to the Grenadian people and the Grenadian economy.

Sisters and brothers, I recognise and call on the religious community in our midst, who have constantly held us up, as a nation. Now more than ever, we need your spiritual guidance and your prayers. We need words of grace to cover our nation and people.

Sometime during the next 21 days, the entire nation should be called to prayer, at an assigned date and time, whether we are at home or work. I leave it to our religious leaders to design the modalities, and I thank them in advance, for their guidance.

Brothers and sisters, before closing, I must salute all the healthcare workers in our country: doctors, nurses, orderlies, maintenance workers, cooks, cleaners, administrators — all those who work in the medical industry, and who are at the frontline of this fight.

I thank and recognise the many volunteers: the St John’s Ambulance Brigade, the Red Cross, the Cadet Corps, and all those who have rallied to ensure, in some way, that Covid-19 is contained, and ultimately defeated.

I also thank the rank and file of our armed forces, who at this time, have the difficult task of maintaining law and order.

I recognise the frontline workers in the other sectors who served and those who continue to serve our population in the various economic sectors

I call on each and every citizen to be responsible, patriotic and cooperative.

Regulations will be announced immediately after this address, and I urge the general public to pay close attention and to observe the restrictions outlined.

Let us all do our part to keep ourselves and the rest of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique safe.

I thank you.

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Caribbean & World

Government of Grenada addresses economic fallout from Covid-19 pandemic

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The Government of Grenada is sparing no effort in addressing the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This assurance came from Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, as he hosted his most recent press conference, in which an extension of the 24-hour curfew was announced.

Dr Mitchell said, “The staff at the Ministry of Finance continues to work on rolling out the economic stimulus package, which is designed to help provide a buffer for businesses and workers that have been hardest hit by the crisis.”

14 measures were outlined in the stimulus package, announced on 20 March 2020 and some persons are expected to start receiving benefits by the end of this month.

Under the stimulus package, qualifying hotels, restaurants and bars and travel agents will receive a percentage of their existing payroll. Although the workers are the ultimate beneficiaries of this measure, the application must be submitted by the business establishment.

Qualifying businesses are advised that the payroll support must be used for that particular purpose and NOT for any other aspect of their business operation. Employees will be expected to certify receipt of payment at the end of each month in which the benefit is applicable.

With respect to income support for public buses, taxi drivers, tourist vendors and other such identified hospitality-based industries, efforts are being made to contact those affected directly with a view to facilitate payments.

All payroll support and income support payments will be by direct deposit to the bank account of qualifying persons and businesses.

Office of the Prime Minister

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Blue Light Distillery commits to the fight against Covid-19 in Grenada

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Many spirits and liquors producers across the Caribbean are mobilising efforts in response to the growing need for sanitising solutions which are critical to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

Grenada-based Blue Light Distillery also joined the fight against the virus.

The company, run by Jim Jardine that initially manufactures gin, is one of the beneficiaries of the INTERREG Trade Enhancement for the Eastern Caribbean (TEECA) project, which is coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce of Martinique (CCI Martinique) along with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Territorial Collectivity of Martinique and the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export).

Sanitisers became scarce or impossible to find in supermarkets in Grenada, as soon as the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on the island on 22 March 2020.

The handmade gin brand Blue Light Distillery decided to embark on the manufacture of antiseptic solutions based on alcohol and aloe vera in response to this unprecedented situation. As of 24 March 2020, the company began to produce 100 bottles of 500 ml per day to supply the supermarkets.

The director of Blue Gin Distillery, Aaron Salyer, explained its decision to revamp the production from hand-crafted gin made with wild Canadian juniper berries to hand sanitisers made with alcohol and aloe vera.

“Blue Light Distillery decided to manufacture hand sanitisers for 2 reasons. First of all, we have access to the high percentage alcohol necessary to make the antiseptic products which are essential in the fight against Covid-19. It also enables us to keep the business afloat during this crisis. Tourism plays a big role in our business. However, bars and hotels are closed, and cruiseships no longer dock in Grenada because of the pandemic,” Salyer said.

The director of Blue Gin Distillery also indicated that donations of sanitisers were made to senior citizens’ facilities and to people who are most affected by poverty on the island. The curfew introduced in Grenada on 30 March and the ban on the sale of alcohol has also impacted the young company founded in 2018.

The involvement in the fight against Covid-19 enabled the only hand-crafted gin manufacturing distillery of the island to survive while praying for the end of the pandemic and the return to normal economic and tourist activities in Grenada.

OECS-Chamber of Commerce of Martinique Joint Media Release

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No burn policy in effect

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by Linda Straker

  • 1 person charged for burning vegetation without permission
  • No-burn policy during dry season January to June
  • Agriculture Fires Act dates from September 1951

Police have confirmed charging one person for burning vegetation because he did not obtain permission to engage in such activities and this is a violation of the no-burn policy which came into effect once the island entered the dry season period of January to June.

The Agriculture Fires Act which dates back to 1951 says, “Every person before commencing the setting of fire on land shall apply in writing or in-person to an Authorised Officer for a licence to do so and shall state in his or her application the location and extent of such land and the reasons why, in his or her opinion, burning is necessary or justifiable.”

The authorising authority is the Ministry of Agriculture, but because the country is currently in a limited State of Emergency, its officers are unable to provide a licence to any person who applies.

On Wednesday, while answering questions in a police briefing, Superintendent Randy Connaught, said the burning of vegetation is prohibited. “We do have a policy on the burning of shrubs or vegetation during the dry season and police are still enforcing it.” He pointed out that a couple of days ago the fire department responded to a fire in St David. “And this resulted in one person being arrested for burning agricultural lands without the required licence from the agricultural department. So yes, the no-burn policy is still in effect and still needs to be observed by all.”

The penalty for any person who sets fire on, or procures, aids or abets the setting of fire on any land without a licence under shall be liable to a fine of $500 and to imprisonment for 3 months.

In the meantime, police have confirmed receipt of a new fire truck that will be added to the fleet. Earlier in the year, Acting Commissioner, Edvin Martin, told journalists that one of the goals in 2020 is to obtain new trucks. Specifications about the truck were not readily available.

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