Grenada anticipates uptick in economy as more sectors can operate

by Linda Straker

  • Number of sectors and businesses allowed to open daily as of Monday, 11 May 2020
  • Daily curfew remains in place, from 7 pm to 5 am
  • Government single-handedly bearing cost for cruise ship nationals quarantine facilities

Grenada’s external borders continue to be closed but government has announced an increase in the number of sectors and businesses that will be allowed to open daily as of Monday, 11 May 2020.

A state of Emergency was declared on 25 March with a 24-hour mandatory curfew, after a 2-week government allowed easement with a 3-day work week for some sectors and a 12-hour curfew on these business/shopping days.

“Every day will be a designated business day, that is, for the businesses already granted permission to operate and those resuming this week. Approved businesses will operate their respective pre-Covid schedules within the allotted time, 8 am to 5 pm. The daily curfew remains in place, from 7 pm to 5 am,” Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, said in an address to citizens on Sunday night.

Dr Mitchell who is also the Minister for Finance, said that by allowing more businesses to resume pre-Covid-19 operating hours, government anticipates an uptick in economic activity with the resumption of work in the construction industry this week.

“Other new areas slated for reopening this week include real estate services, laundromats, landscapers and gardeners, flower shops, consumer credit stores and companies offering payday loans,” he said, informing citizens that health and safety guidelines have been created for each sector to operate.

Contractors for each construction project must first seek and be granted permission from the construction sub-committee before actual work resumes. Despite allowing more sectors to function, public transportation was not given permission, but the Prime Minister promised that it is an area that working towards granting approval.

“With many workers dependent on public transportation, government is working with stakeholders to develop appropriate social distancing and hygienic measures that will guide the resumption of this service. An official announcement will be made in the coming days,” he said.

Schools and churches continue to be closed along with a number of small businesses such as barbershops and hairdressers, nail technicians and spas.

However, there will be a limited ferry between mainland Grenada and the 2 grenadine islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique which is governed by Grenada. “We will continue to work closely with the service providers to ensure that the operational guidelines are adhered to,” he said.

Explaining the delay in opening external borders, Dr Mitchell said that while this is imminent, the country is not yet ready to welcome commercial travellers. “Borders were closed to prevent the spread of the virus and to save lives and for now, we must maintain that status quo,” he said.

“At the most recent meetings of Caricom and OECS leaders, we collectively agreed to start gradually relaxing the restrictions for travel, as the pandemic in the region has been largely contained. Governments, airlines and hotels are now finalising the details of this phased re-opening,” he said, declaring that once the requisite protocols are in place, Grenada anticipates opening borders in the first week of June 2020.

“I assure you, fellow Grenadians, we will not move unless we are satisfied that adequate health and safety guidelines are in place,” he promised. Grenada closed its airport on 25 March as part of measures aimed at containing and reducing the importation of Covid-19 cases. The first confirmed case was a visitor from the UK which was linked to 5 other cases.

At present Grenada has conducted more than 400 PCR tests and 1,500 rapid tests for the contagion which has caused the death of thousands worldwide and infected millions. The Prime Minister, in providing an update on cases, said that of the 20 confirmed cases, only 6 continue to be active cases with all other declared as recovered.

Over the weekend of 9-10 May, Grenada allowed the return of some nationals who were employed on cruise ships. The Prime Minister said that the state cannot deny the right of citizens to return home but on the other hand — and returning nationals must understand — that in the midst of a health crisis, they can potentially spread the virus.

“Rest assured that the necessary health measures were followed. The arriving individuals were tested and transported directly to mandatory quarantine facilities,” he said, pointing out that the mandatory quarantine for returning crew members is at a cost to the state.

“Government is now single-handedly bearing the cost of almost $200,000 to provide these facilities because the cruise lines have not accepted responsibility, despite earlier agreement to do so,” he disclosed in the address which was viewed by more than 6,000 via the Government Information Service (GIS) Facebook page.

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