Believing Grenada has seen “an end to the bad part of COVID,” Cabinet is choosing to ease restrictions on gatherings even while the vaccination rate remains at 33%.
There are no longer limits on gatherings of fully vaccinated persons and “it is being contemplated as to how we can move forward with non-vaccinated as well,” according to Minister of Health and Social Security Hon Nicholas Steele. Speaking at the post Cabinet press briefing on Tuesday (Feb 22), the Minister said Cabinet decisions were based on recommendations from the recently appointed subcommittee comprising Dr George Mitchell, former COVID-19 Response Coordinator; Commissioner of Police Edvin Martin and private sector representative Adele Garbutt. The subcommittee is tasked with recommending regulations for gatherings; including sports events and Carnival activities and other COVID-19 protocols.
The subcommittee is now examining protocols on masks, which Minister Steele said will be “contemplated for churches as well.”
“We look forward to the contemplation, maybe by the end of the month, or into the next month, of the mask mandate being removed as well,” he said, noting that this is the trend in many countries.
While he remains concerned about the low level of vaccination, and said more clinics will be organised to provide vaccines and tests in communities, Minister Steele indicated that if the current trend in positivity rates continues, Grenada may have most, if not all, restrictions changed by April.
He cautioned, however, that people must maintain a sense of “personal responsibility,” even amidst the positive trends; and warned COVID-19 will remain here because it is endemic and because the vaccination rate is too low.
“Because of our low rate of vaccination we will always remain vulnerable,” he stated.
February began with a positivity rate of 10.9% on Feb 04, with five hospitalisations. A week later the positivity rate was 13.8% with five hospitalisations. The rate dropped to 7.9% on Feb 18 with four hospitalisations and by Feb 20 the rate was down to 6.2% with five hospitalisations.
Referring to the opening of many borders and the removal of restrictions, including travel restriction, he said Grenada is working to “go back to a new normal, as close as is possible.”
Such moves are taking place in other countries with varying vaccination rates. The United Kingdom, with 73% fully vaccinated, lifted all COVID-19 restrictions earlier this week, while several American states are removing restrictions. Canada, which has eased on-arrival testing for fully-vaccinated travellers, has a vaccination rate of 82% and Mexico, which removed all entry restrictions on Jan 01, has a vaccination rate of 56%, according to data compiled by the University of Oxford for all countries. In the Caribbean, Grenada’s 33% compares to 28% in Saint Lucia, 26% in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 50% in Trinidad and Tobago, 52% in Barbados and 89% in the Cayman Islands.