Saturday 31 October, 2020

Hilaire: New Govt travel protocols put St Lucians at risk

First Deputy Leader of the Saint Lucia Labor Party, Ernest Hilaire (left), Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

First Deputy Leader of the Saint Lucia Labor Party, Ernest Hilaire (left), Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

First Deputy Leader of the Saint Lucia Labor Party, Dr Ernest Hilaire, spoke with reporters today criticizing the newly announced protocols for the reopening of our borders as unnecessarily exposing St Lucians to risk.

Hilaire took issue with the fact that Saint Lucia would be accepting persons from all countries at this time and that government would allow for persons to come in without having been tested for COVID-19 in their home nations.

In cases where persons cannot get a test, the new protocols allow for testing upon arrival in St Lucia.

Hilaire said: "We do not believe and we strongly hold a view, that we should not be rushing into opening up to international visitors at this point."

"What shocked me were some of the comments made by the prime minister, who in effect was saying, there are persons that will come to St Lucia without being tested... so what do we say, you can come to St Lucia without testing? There will be a tent at Hewanorra that will test you? Who's paying for it by the way, is it St Lucians paying for it?"

"We are now taking the responsibility to test them in St Lucia, to take them to the resort, manage them at the resort at our own expense!"

"Why is it necessary to expose St Lucians to any risk at all? Look what happened in Antigua, at least four Antiguans tested positive for the virus."

Hilaire singled out the United States to make his point: "Why do we have to open up to the United States, which up to yesterday had their worst day of infection for COVID... I cannot understand why we would want to allow visitors from the United States to come to St Lucia at this point in time... cases are increasing in the United States at a rate never seen before."

Hilaire outlined how the opposition would approach the border: "We believe first and foremost that the government should reopen in its entirety, the local economy... If what we're hearing from the medical experts is correct, we see no reason why St Lucia should not open up (the local economy)."

Hilaire said that secondly, St Lucia should open up regionally: "Other countries that are similar to us in terms of the management of COVID, we should be extending our relationships with them and opening up to them."

"So we open up the local economy as much as possible, we gradually open up to the regional economy as much as possible, and only then when we can ascertain that the international economy is safe for us to be allowing persons to be having that kind of interaction, we should do so."

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