June 1, 2021
Mixed messages and inconsistent enforcement of rules

SOMETHING IS not quite right.

The number of Covid-19 positive cases in the country is on the rise again, yet, seemingly unconcerned about the risk, hundreds of mostly unmasked spectators packed (and were allowed to pack) the stands, in close proximity of each other, at the Arnos Vale Sporting Complex for the finals of the VPL 3 this past Sunday. Over the weekend, popular bars and restaurants along the south coast between Arnos Vale and Villa also saw crowds that were eating, drinking and being entertained by amplified music.

These gatherings were allowed to take place undisturbed by the police, despite being in contravention of S.R. & O. No. 4 of 2021, also known as the ‘Public Health (Covid-19) Rules’ which came into effect on February 5, 2021. Yet last Friday, the police were out in full force, stopping passenger vans and ticketing them for having more passengers than allowed under the Rules, while churches are still restricted to 30 per cent of their capacity.

The S.R.& O limits the number of people who can gather indoors at bars and other places of entertainment to 10 and outdoors to 20; indoor dining at restaurants is prohibited.

Over the Whitsuntide weekend, a beach splash at Questelles was closed down by police, yet the very same beach splash was in full swing this past Sunday. So is the beach splash allowed or isn’t it?

We are clearly playing with fire. In Trinidad and Tobago, which is just 255 km (160 miles) south of St Vincent and the Grenadines, over the last four days, there were 1922 new cases of Covid19 and 55 deaths. Is it that we feel that here in St Vincent and the Grenadines we have conquered Covid19, or that there is something special about Vincentians that makes us immune to the virus?

St Vincent and the Grenadines, we all need to wake up! The authorities cannot hope to win the trust and compliance of the people when messages are inconsistent and it is crystal clear that the rules are being enforced differently, depending on who is breaking them. Is there strength only for the small minibus operator or the man with the roadside barbecue?

On the individual level, why are so many of us taking such risks with our health? We are wearing masks incorrectly, if at all; we are refusing to be vaccinated and we are not social distancing as we should.

Look, we get that we are all fed up of the restrictions and being told what we must not do. We are tired of staying indoors and not being allowed to party and socialize. But by our very actions and inactions, we are prolonging the duration of this restrictive existence.

It has been over 14 months since the first case of Covid-19 was diagnosed in St Vincent and the Grenadines. 2044 people have since been diagnosed with the virus, we have 199 active cases and 12 people have died. By now, we all know what we need to do; we just need to do it — stop the blame game, enforce the rules fully and evenly, communicate clearly and unambiguously with the people, and each protect our own health and the health of others.