St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on Friday, announced mandatory measures, breach of which will be ticketable offences, as the country combats community spread of COVID-19.
Additional measures under the Public Health Act of 2020 have been recommended and statutory rules and orders are being drafted for a ticketing system to support these measures.
The new measures will remain in effect for four weeks, in the first instance.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Roger Duncan, told a press briefing that health authorities had noted that as the country transitions from one phase of the pandemic to the next, there would be changes to the action taken at each phase.
The new measures include the mandatory wearing of facemasks in all public vehicles.
All public vehicles may now only transport a maximum of half of their permitted number of passengers.
Duncan noted that the half will include both the driver and the conductor.
Face masks must also be worn in all public and private establishments to which the public has access.
Duncan said that there is to be no in-establishment dining at restaurants and bars and only take-away services will be allowed.
The gathering protocols will be enforced with particular emphasis on bars, gambling sheds, and rum shops.
“They will be enforced,” Duncan said.
“As the Minister [of Health] had indicated, we really hope that the entire population takes into consideration what we have just shared with you, take into consideration your own personal and family risk and do all you possibly could on your part to mitigate these risks,” Duncan said at the briefing at which Health Ministry St. Clair “Jimmy” Prince announced community spread in the country.
At the press briefing, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache also detailed the latest data on the COVID-19 pandemic in SVG.
“We still continue to promote the good old-fashioned things that we have been speaking about for months. Please keep your distance, please wear a mask in public places and please sanitise your hands,” Duncan said.
According to the World Health Organisation, community transmission of COVID-19 is “evidenced by the inability to relate confirmed cases through chains of transmission for a large number of cases, or by increasing positive tests through sentinel samples (routine systematic testing of respiratory samples from established laboratories)”.
As of Thursday, SVG had 1,170 cases of COVID-19, of which 142 were imported and eight import-related.
The country has 1,021 local cases, 494 of which are from contacts of known positive cases, 177 from persons who presented with flu-like symptoms and tested positive.
The health ministry said that 500 of these cases are under investigation and 790 cases are active.
COVID-19 has claimed three lives in SVG.