St. Vincent and the Grenadines has scrapped its COVID-19 gathering rules, which were intended to keep people safe by limiting crowd and mandating facemasks in certain places.
The law was repealed on Tuesday, but there was no announcement of it at Thursday’s meeting of Parliament.
The repeal of the law came in the form of a Statutory Rule & Order (SR&O), a law passed by the Cabinet, which was published in the official Gazette.
“The Public Health (COVID-19) (Gathering) Rules 2021 are revoked,” said the order, given under the hand of Minister of Health, St. Clair Prince.
The revocation of the law became public during Thursday’s meeting of Parliament, when MP for East Kingstown, Fitz Bramble an opposition lawmaker said:
“Somebody just sent me here a notice reflecting the revocation of public gatherings in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It seems to be authentic; it’s on the official letterhead and so on. And it says, ‘The public health COVID-19 gathering rules are revoked’.”
He was at the time debating a law approving pensions for certain teachers who the government fired because they did not take a COVID-19 vaccine last year, as mandated by law.
“So it seems like the pressure is easing up a little bit, but the fact of the matter is, the impact that the vaccine mandate on the teachers who were dismissed cannot be minimised only, or at all, in my view, by this bill,” Bramble said.
The health minister confirmed that the mass gathering law had been revoked.
With the revocation of the law, the government has lifted the restrictions on the number of people who could gather indoor or outdoor.
Physical distancing is no longer mandated and businesses no longer have a legal requirement to provide hand-sanitising stations.
Places of worship can return to full capacity and are no longer mandated to conduct temperature checks or keep for 28 days the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people in attendance.
Patrons at sports event do not have to wear facemask or observe physical distancing.
The COVID-19 gathering law, which came into effect in June 2021, restricted outdoor gatherings to 20 people and indoor gatherings to 10.
However, places of worship were limited to one-third of their capacity.
Permission had to be obtained from health and national security officials to exceed these numbers.
The permission of the Commissioner of Police in consultation with the chief medical officer was required for competitive sports events.