St Lucia under State of Emergency amid COVID-19 second wave

St Lucia has announced a state of emergency (SOE) effective today, February 3, amid another wave of coronavirus cases.

An aerial view of Castries, St Lucia

The state of emergency includes a 10-hour nightly curfew and a reduction in the hours that businesses are allowed to operate.

The measure was announced last night by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet who said it will initially be in effect for a week.

However, supermarkets, minimarts shops and bakeries will remain open to avoid panic buying. “Today’s decisions were not taken lightly as we know it will be an inconvenience to all of you,” Chastanet said.

Allen Chastanet
St Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

A statement subsequently issued by the government said the following commercial operations would also continue: financial and banking services; electricity, water and telecommunications services; hardware stores; food supply and preparation services; takeaway from food trucks and food stalls; farming/fishing activities; sanitation/solid waste management services; gas stations; broadcasting and media; manufacturing; customs brokerage/ courier services and online commerce/services; vending (food or agricultural produce); construction; law offices; accounting firms; and automobile garages.

Air and seaports will also remain open.

Additionally, Chastanet said, visitors to the island will now require a PCR test within five days of arrival rather than seven days.

His announcements came on the same day St Lucia recorded 68 new COVID-19 cases. The previous day, the Ministry of Health and Wellness confirmed the island’s 16th COVID-19 related death – a 61-year-old man with multiple underlying illnesses.

As of 6:00 pm on Tuesday, the total number of cases diagnosed in St Lucia since the start of the pandemic was 1,479, including 757 active cases.

Minister of Education Dr Gale Rigobert also announced, during Tuesday night’s address, that face-to-face teaching will be suspended from Thursday.