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COVID-19: Regional Round Up/March 30, 2020

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ANGUILLA

NEW HEALTH REGULATIONS  (theanguillan.net). From 27 March, for two weeks, Anguillans are confined to their homes except for essential visits to a doctor, pharmacy, grocery store, wholesale food and drink suppliers, restaurant, banks or money services, or a gas station; or for outdoor exercise for periods not exceeding an hour and a half per day in daylight hours. Key workers are exempt. Public gatherings have also been banned for more than five people or for 12 persons attending a wedding or a funeral. Two active cases have been confirmed.

 

ARUBA

ARUBA AND THE WORLD FACING COVID-19 (arubatoday.com). Aruba has tested over 560 people with 49 positive cases and, so far, no fatalities. The island is under partial lockdown. People are asked to go out only for essential shopping items or visits to the doctor, and to be in groups of no more than three people. A curfew is in place from 9pm to 6am.

 

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA

PASTOR TO BE CHARGED FOR VIOLATING SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES  (antiguaobserver.com) Following the announcement of a state of emergency declared on Friday 27 March, a Jamaican pastor was charged with holding a service at Bolans New Testament Church of God with more than 25 people, thus violating social distancing rules; a man in the congregation was also charged with the battery of a police officer when police were sent to the church to disperse the congregation. Churchgoers remonstrated with police calling their action “satanic and ungodly”. There are seven active cases.

 

BAHAMAS

PM’S DECISION TO CLOSE BORDERS WAS ESSENTIAL (thenassauguardian.com) Prime Minister Dr Hubert Innis said that although it was ‘unfortunate’ Bahamians had been stranded abroad, it had been essential to close the borders to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 virus. The government is also seeking to extend a night-time curfew, first made two weeks ago. The total number of active cases stands at 13.

 

BARBADOS

ALL NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES TO CLOSE DURING 14-DAY CURFEW (loopnewsbarbados.com). A curfew commenced on Saturday 28 March from 8pm to 6am, with Bajans being urged to stop panic-buying. Supermarkets, groceries, corner shops and bakeries will all remain open outside of curfew hours. Barbados has reported 33 active cases.

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

(virginislandsnewsonline.com) Help from the UK government for those made unemployed as a result of Covid-19 has been requested. There are two active cases.

 

CUBA

FOOD SHORTAGES, A DECREPIT ECONOMY, AND NOW THE CORONAVIRUS: HARDER TIMES AHEAD FOR CUBA (miamiherald.com). The government closed hotels, schools, and halted local transportation services between provinces to slow the spread of the virus. Large gatherings have been prohibited, and people have been told to stay at home as much as possible. Social distancing measures look very different in countries such as Cuba, with little Internet service in homes. Cuba has reported 162 active cases.

 

CURACAO

CURACAO IMMEDIATELY ON LOCKDOWN (curacaochronicle.com). On Sunday 29 March, Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath locked down the island for two weeks. People are only allowed to go outside in case of a medical need or to visit pharmacies, petrol stations, supermarkets, mini markets, bakeries and hardware stores. These shops can remain open until 7 pm. Curacao has reported eight active cases.

 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

WORLD BANK $150 MILLION TO MEET DOMINICANS’ NEEDS IN CRISIS (dominicantoday.com). The Dominican Government will use US$150 million previously allocated for reconstruction and development to meet the needs of the Dominican population affected by coronavirus. The Dominican Republic is under a state of emergency and has reported 855 active cases.

 

GRENADA

POSTPONEMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLE INSPECTION (nowgrenada.com). As of Monday 30 March 2020, all motor vehicle inspection is suspended until further notice along with theoretical and practical driving tests. Grenada is under a limited state of emergency with citizens only allowed out between 5am and 7pm for essentials. The tri-island state has reported nine active cases.

 

GUADELOUPE

ONE NEW DEATH (la1ere.francetvinfo.fr/guadeloupe). One new death, a 67-year-old man with underlying health problems, was announced on Monday 30 March, bringing the total of deaths to five. Free bottles of alcohol-based solutions were due to be delivered Monday to help safeguard health and safety personnel (guadeloupe.france-antilles.com). There are 85 active cases.

 

HAITI

PRISONERS TO BE RELEASED UNDER STATE OF EMERGENCY (haitiantimes.com). Minister of Justice, Lucmane Delille, instructed the Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday to launch legal procedures for the release of detainees accused of minor crimes such as shoplifting and brawls. Haiti is under a state of emergency, its borders are closed, and a curfew from 8pm to 5am has been imposed. So far, this country of 11 million has reported 14 active cases.

JAMAICA

DECLARE A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN THE NATION’S INTEREST’ — PNP (jamaica-gleaner.com/news) The opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has called for a declaration of a State of National Emergency to counter the COVID-19 virus. Currently, the government is managing the crisis under the Disaster Risk Management Act. There are 33 active cases.

 

PUERTO RICO

4.2 QUAKE HITS SOUTHERN PUERTO RICO AMID CORONAVIRUS CURFEW (abcnews.go.com). On Monday 30 March, a magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Puerto Rico at a depth of 5km near the southwest coastal town of Guanica and was felt across the U.S. territory. The quake hit during a monthlong curfew aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus and came three months after a series of strong quakes near southwest Puerto Rico killed one person and damaged hundreds of homes. Puerto Rico has recorded 168 active cases of Covid-19.

ST KITTS-NEVIS

WE ARE IN AN UNPRECEDENTED TIME’ (sknis.gov.kn) Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris declared a 14-day state of emergency on 29 March. Under these powers regulations provide for ‘every person to remain confined to their place of residence…except in stipulated circumstances for example essential travel to the doctor, grocery store, bank, credit union, money services, business, pharmacy or to refuel vehicles.’ A  team of 30 nurses and four doctors from Cuba has arrived on St Kitts. St Kitts-Nevis now has seven active cases.

 

ST LUCIA

PRIME MINISTER EXTENDS QUARANTINE, INCREASES CURFEW (stlucianewsonline.com) Responding to a lack of adherence to previous rules, PM Chastanet announced that the curfew would be extended and be in effect from 8pm to 5pm, the quarantine period that was due to end on 5 April will be extended to 14 April, and all of the country’s liquor licenses are henceforth suspended so anyone operating a restaurant other than a drive through or takeout will be in breach of the law. St. Lucia has reported eight  active cases.

 

ST MARTIN/SINT MAARTEN

EDITORIAL: HOW LIFE CONTINUES (stmaarten.com) An editorial in the local online newspaper comments that it is ‘amazing how disciplined almost all residents of our island are…. It is hoped that the rapidly implemented and strict regulations on both sides [French and Dutch] of the island worked as hoped for and the spread of the virus has been blocked.’ St Martin has 12 cases and Sint Maarten has six.

 

ST VINCENT

ST VINCENT & THE GRENADINES NOW CORONAVIRUS FREE (news784.com) Following the full recovery of its only recorded victim, Minister of Health Luke Browne says that there are no longer any confirmed active cases of Covid-19 in SVG.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

TRINIDAD RECORDS THIRD DEATH; PM SAYS COUNTRY IS AT WAR (caribbean360.com) A third death from the Covid-19 virus was announced yesterday (Monday). Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said that the country was at “war” and that “every one has to be a soldier because the enemy could come from any one of us, so therefore we should be extra careful’. There are 78 active cases on the twin island state.

 

TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS

TCI UNDER COMPLETE LOCKDOWN FROM SATURDAY (tcweekly.news.comThe government declared a three-week lockdown from Saturday 28 March while its borders are closed to all non-essential travel. The Overseas British Territory has five cases.

 

Click here for a coronavirus live update from around the world.





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Dominica

COVID-19: Pronouncement of construction an essential service.

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BCAD Executive met by teleconference on 3rd April 2020 to deliberate on the Government’s consideration of construction as an essential service, as obtained in SRO 15 of 2020, and to review this new situation as it will impact and potentially affect the local construction sector within the circumstances of the COVID19 pandemic, and the sector’s collateral impact on the wider private sector and the public as a whole.

 

Contributions were received and made by the following Executive Members:

Mr Gregor Fortune

Mr Delbert Paris

Mr Kevin Henderson

Mr Melkezideck Toussaint,

Mr Steve Astaphan,

Mr Stewart Paris, and

Mr Anthony Le Blanc.

 

SRO 15 of 2020 – Emergency Power (Disaster) – (Curfew) Order

 SRO 15 of 2020 was Gazetted and came into effect on 1st April 2020.

  1. Section 7(1)(g) provides “Subject to paragraphs 3 and 5, every non-essential establishment, or business shall remain closed except for the following – … (g) Construction and manufacturing projects, … may open between the hours of 6:00 am and 4:00m pm Monday to Friday.
  2. Section 7(1)(g) (i) to (v) provides that work on-site are subject to compliance with increased attention to sanitation, provision of additional PPE (face mask) and maintenance of 2 m ( 6 ft 8”) social distances for workmen as far as reasonably possible.
  3. Section 12 limits passengers to one person per row with no passengers allowed at the front with the driver.

 

Support and Concerns:

The Meeting expressed support for activities and actions which are aimed at curtailing the spread of the COVID19 epidemic in Dominica.  That BCAD Executive supports the efforts of the Government of Dominica through the principal agency of the Ministry of Health and in general, supports the provisions in the SRO 15 which seek to encourage persons to stay home and save lives.

However, the Meeting had serious concerns with some of the provisions of the SRO 15 and its development, as it relates to the consideration of Construction as an essential service:

  • Public Information and Consultation.
  • Lack of Forewarning: The Meeting expressed concern, as was expressed in its reaction of 23rd March 2020, that the State has failed to publish a plan as to what is to be expected at each level of the COVID19 epidemic. Hence, both the pronouncements of 22nd March 2019 and that of the 1st April 2020 provided no forewarning or time to wind down activities, which would have enabled contractors to do a shutdown of non-essential or non-critical work properly.
    1. Absence of Consultation with the Local Sector: The meeting expressed surprised that the local construction sector was not consulted, and certainly the executive of BCAD had no input in the SRO which pronounced that construction projects are to be considered as essential services and ought to continue as normal in this COVIFD19 pandemic.
  • Overall responsibility of Limiting Spread of COVIOD19: The Meeting agreed that every contractor, and every employee in the construction sector, has a personal and collective responsibility to limit the spread of COIVID19, and therefore should not engage in work or other activity which has the potential to undermine the efforts of others, including the State. Hence, the meeting found that the present pronouncement of the SRO at section 7cannot be supported as:
    1. it is impractical to engage in construction site activities and expect that workmen will continually be able to maintain a 2 m(6 ft 8”) distance between them and work efficiently,
    2. given, that construction workers, on many existing projects, come from all over the island, it is, therefore, impractical to expect public transport to be readily available to carry workers to site if they are to comply with the requirement to operate at 25% capacity (1 per row) for the same fare,
    3. each exposure of a construction worker on a site or during the commute exposes his/her whole household to the possibility of infection with COIVID19.
  • Productivity and Cost.
    1. The Meeting found that the Contractor will likely be operating inefficiently, with less than ideal staffing, and at low productivity and increased cost for work which has already be priced under a contract, given the limitations provided under the curfew and SRO 15 Clause 7 and 12. It was cited that
      • it would be unlikely to have a full workday if key workmen have to commute from remote locations,
      • some workmen will not be available on account of either fear of contracting the disease, or having to stay home with minors, or having taken a proactive stance about limiting the spread of the disease, and
      • In addition to the new direct cost of the extra PPE required, these may not be readily available, and therefore require not only extra procurement cost but also, may require extra supervisory cost in order to ensure their utilisation.
    2. To mitigate against (a) (ii) above, the possibility of extra transportation cost, it is likely that the Contractor would have to contribute to commuting
    3. That it is an extra cost to the State and diverts resources from other more critical aspects of managing COVID19 if police officers or other State officials have to divert resources to ensure that construction sites comply with the requirements of SRO 15.
  1. Health and Safety and Legal Framework: The meeting noted that Contractors as employers are still responsible for the health and safety of employees on the construction site.  Therefore, knowingly engaging them and exposing them and their families to COVID19, either on the site or during commute to or from the site, places employees in a compromised health and safety situation.   Further, that any incident of infection, or suspected infection, of an employee on-site, will likely result in the closing down of the site as all employees are likely to be quarantined.
  2. Duration and Implication of Consideration of Construction as an “Essential Service”: The Meeting expressed concern, that given that Construction was considered an essential service, the majority by volume of Government procured construction services were not made available to be undertaken by local contractors or construction workers. Further, it questioned whether this pronouncement would be permanent for all other disasters, or only this time.

 

Recommendations.

The BCAD Executive therefore strongly recommend the following:

  • That all Builders and Contractors, our employees and the general public are encouraged to stay at home and save lives, unless their construction activity can impact positively on limiting the spread or management of COVID19, or in some way essential for the proper functioning of the State.
  • That generally construction workers should stay at home, spending time with family and doing the long outstanding trade work at home with the help of family members.
  • That, in the circumstances of limiting the spread and enhancing the management of COVID19, construction projects are to be generally and rightly considered as non-essential economic activities. Hence BCAD Executive requests that, until at least the conclusion of the emergency period dictated under SRO 15,
    1. local Builders and Contractors should not be engaged in, or continue, construction works as normal, neither should they endanger their employees by requiring that they attend to site work,
    2. the Public Sector shuts down its construction projects and encourages consultants to work from home, and construction workers to stay at home and save lives
    3. That where restrictions are to be imposed, some forewarning be given in order that non-essential project works are brought to a close safely and with all critical elements concluded.
  • That more private sector business organisations be brought into discussions about finding more creative ways of limiting the spread and enhancing the management of COVID19.





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Dominica

IN PICTURES: Dominica parliament holds first meeting since COVID-19 declared pandemic

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The Dominica parliament convened this morning for the Second Meeting of The First Session of The Tenth Parliament where two COVID-19-related bills were introduced for debate.

Dominica News Online (DNO) got some photographs of parliamentarians, most of them wearing masks, as they arrived at the Parliament building. Photos by Cecil Clarke.





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Dominica

COVID-19: Pronouncement of construction an essential service.

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BCAD Executive met by teleconference on 3rd April 2020 to deliberate on the Government’s consideration of construction as an essential service, as obtained in SRO 15 of 2020, and to review this new situation as it will impact and potentially affect the local construction sector within the circumstances of the COVID19 pandemic, and the sector’s collateral impact on the wider private sector and the public as a whole.

 

Contributions were received and made by the following Executive Members:

Mr Gregor Fortune

Mr Delbert Paris

Mr Kevin Henderson

Mr Melkezideck Toussaint,

Mr Steve Astaphan,

Mr Stewart Paris, and

Mr Anthony Le Blanc.

 

SRO 15 of 2020 – Emergency Power (Disaster) – (Curfew) Order

 SRO 15 of 2020 was Gazetted and came into effect on 1st April 2020.

  1. Section 7(1)(g) provides “Subject to paragraphs 3 and 5, every non-essential establishment, or business shall remain closed except for the following – … (g) Construction and manufacturing projects, … may open between the hours of 6:00 am and 4:00m pm Monday to Friday.
  2. Section 7(1)(g) (i) to (v) provides that work on-site are subject to compliance with increased attention to sanitation, provision of additional PPE (face mask) and maintenance of 2 m ( 6 ft 8”) social distances for workmen as far as reasonably possible.
  3. Section 12 limits passengers to one person per row with no passengers allowed at the front with the driver.

 

Support and Concerns:

The Meeting expressed support for activities and actions which are aimed at curtailing the spread of the COVID19 epidemic in Dominica.  That BCAD Executive supports the efforts of the Government of Dominica through the principal agency of the Ministry of Health and in general, supports the provisions in the SRO 15 which seek to encourage persons to stay home and save lives.

However, the Meeting had serious concerns with some of the provisions of the SRO 15 and its development, as it relates to the consideration of Construction as an essential service:

  • Public Information and Consultation.
  • Lack of Forewarning: The Meeting expressed concern, as was expressed in its reaction of 23rd March 2020, that the State has failed to publish a plan as to what is to be expected at each level of the COVID19 epidemic. Hence, both the pronouncements of 22nd March 2019 and that of the 1st April 2020 provided no forewarning or time to wind down activities, which would have enabled contractors to do a shutdown of non-essential or non-critical work properly.
    1. Absence of Consultation with the Local Sector: The meeting expressed surprised that the local construction sector was not consulted, and certainly the executive of BCAD had no input in the SRO which pronounced that construction projects are to be considered as essential services and ought to continue as normal in this COVIFD19 pandemic.
  • Overall responsibility of Limiting Spread of COVIOD19: The Meeting agreed that every contractor, and every employee in the construction sector, has a personal and collective responsibility to limit the spread of COIVID19, and therefore should not engage in work or other activity which has the potential to undermine the efforts of others, including the State. Hence, the meeting found that the present pronouncement of the SRO at section 7cannot be supported as:
    1. it is impractical to engage in construction site activities and expect that workmen will continually be able to maintain a 2 m(6 ft 8”) distance between them and work efficiently,
    2. given, that construction workers, on many existing projects, come from all over the island, it is, therefore, impractical to expect public transport to be readily available to carry workers to site if they are to comply with the requirement to operate at 25% capacity (1 per row) for the same fare,
    3. each exposure of a construction worker on a site or during the commute exposes his/her whole household to the possibility of infection with COIVID19.
  • Productivity and Cost.
    1. The Meeting found that the Contractor will likely be operating inefficiently, with less than ideal staffing, and at low productivity and increased cost for work which has already be priced under a contract, given the limitations provided under the curfew and SRO 15 Clause 7 and 12. It was cited that
      • it would be unlikely to have a full workday if key workmen have to commute from remote locations,
      • some workmen will not be available on account of either fear of contracting the disease, or having to stay home with minors, or having taken a proactive stance about limiting the spread of the disease, and
      • In addition to the new direct cost of the extra PPE required, these may not be readily available, and therefore require not only extra procurement cost but also, may require extra supervisory cost in order to ensure their utilisation.
    2. To mitigate against (a) (ii) above, the possibility of extra transportation cost, it is likely that the Contractor would have to contribute to commuting
    3. That it is an extra cost to the State and diverts resources from other more critical aspects of managing COVID19 if police officers or other State officials have to divert resources to ensure that construction sites comply with the requirements of SRO 15.
  1. Health and Safety and Legal Framework: The meeting noted that Contractors as employers are still responsible for the health and safety of employees on the construction site.  Therefore, knowingly engaging them and exposing them and their families to COVID19, either on the site or during commute to or from the site, places employees in a compromised health and safety situation.   Further, that any incident of infection, or suspected infection, of an employee on-site, will likely result in the closing down of the site as all employees are likely to be quarantined.
  2. Duration and Implication of Consideration of Construction as an “Essential Service”: The Meeting expressed concern, that given that Construction was considered an essential service, the majority by volume of Government procured construction services were not made available to be undertaken by local contractors or construction workers. Further, it questioned whether this pronouncement would be permanent for all other disasters, or only this time.

 

Recommendations.

The BCAD Executive therefore strongly recommend the following:

  • That all Builders and Contractors, our employees and the general public are encouraged to stay at home and save lives, unless their construction activity can impact positively on limiting the spread or management of COVID19, or in some way essential for the proper functioning of the State.
  • That generally construction workers should stay at home, spending time with family and doing the long outstanding trade work at home with the help of family members.
  • That, in the circumstances of limiting the spread and enhancing the management of COVID19, construction projects are to be generally and rightly considered as non-essential economic activities. Hence BCAD Executive requests that, until at least the conclusion of the emergency period dictated under SRO 15,
    1. local Builders and Contractors should not be engaged in, or continue, construction works as normal, neither should they endanger their employees by requiring that they attend to site work,
    2. the Public Sector shuts down its construction projects and encourages consultants to work from home, and construction workers to stay at home and save lives
    3. That where restrictions are to be imposed, some forewarning be given in order that non-essential project works are brought to a close safely and with all critical elements concluded.
  • That more private sector business organisations be brought into discussions about finding more creative ways of limiting the spread and enhancing the management of COVID19.





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