With the festive season upon us, the Ministry of Health is inundated with requests for permission to hold social events, some of which bear no difference to what would normally be requested in pre-COVID-19 times.
“It’s as if there is some level of oblivion to what is actually occurring in the world,” Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Shawn Charles said at the post Cabinet press briefing, indicating some promoters and event hosts “are completely unaware that we are in a pandemic.” Such events have the potential to put the entire country at risk to community spread, he warned.
Anyone who enters a crowded night club or a clandestine party is putting others at risks. One individual can “compromise everything” and spread COVID-19 to fellow family members and others with whom they work or interact.
“We should not wait until there is community spread before we change our behaviour. That is when it is too late,” he advised.
Minister of Health and Social Security Hon Nickolas Steele said promoters with events approaching 50 to 100 people, depending on the space, are told that it is necessary to have a police presence. Moreover, depending on the type of event, the Minister said promoters are required to have health wardens on site.
Additionally, the Ministry continues to have “roving teams” checking sites and events, particularly in the south of the island where the majority of large events take place. He referred to promoters who say they need to earn an income, but continue to break the rules, which has required the Ministry to engage additional resources to monitor social events.
“Resources that are already scarce at a time when government revenues are also down,” he added.
All party or cruise boats have been told the measures they must take in order to operate and continue business, he said, adding that some have changed completely “to not having any type of party activity” and limited activities to scuba diving.
When asked about monitoring in other areas, particularly the smaller venues, including the numerous ‘rum shops’ where people gather late at night, Minister Steele said health wardens are monitoring social activities throughout the state. He made particular mention that Petite Martinique has been “extremely compliant, and Carriacou in general as well.”
The Minister acknowledged that it is a “difficult task to make sure that people keep their own safety in mind” and the Ministry has had to “go out there and enforce that.” He called on citizens to report any events or activities “while they are occurring.” He also urged citizens to report any businesses that fail to adhere to the protocols.
“Many of us are getting battle fatigue,” he warned, with both businesses and individuals failing to adhere to hand sanitising, social distancing and wearing of masks.
“As a customer of any establishment you need to exercise the power that you have,” adding that it is your right to inform the management when they are not following the proper procedures.