Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, has described the invitation for people from Carriacou and Petite Martinique to go shop for food and gas in the Grenadine territory of Union island which is governed by St Vincent and the Grenadines, as completely reckless.
“And I want to say to the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique that if you are having difficulties getting food we can help because we have a lot of it in Union island and you could get to Union island. I want to tell our brothers and sisters that and if you want to get cooking gas we can help you, but let us do it in a structured and organised manner,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines said in a ceremony on Friday. At the time he was accepting medical donations from Venezuela.
“It is alarming that our citizens will be called upon to break the law by the leader of another country. It is a grossly irresponsible action that has the potential for not only legal consequences but also poses a significant threat to public health and public safety,” Dr Mitchell said on Saturday, hours after Gonsalves extended the invitation.
In a statement on Saturday, Dr Mitchell, who also serves as Minister for National Security, explained to the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, the 2 Grenadines islands that are governed by Grenada, that many countries as part of the strategy to combat Covid-19 have instituted stringent measures, while others have opted for a more relaxed approach, which in some cases have resulted in dire consequences. “In the fluidity of the pandemic, it may be hard to say which is the right or wrong approach, but countries retain a sovereign right to determine what works best and when decisions are made, citizens must abide by the laws of their respective countries. Even in the midst of a pandemic, the law must prevail.”
Grenada presently has 14 confirmed Covid-19 cases, while St Vincent has 12 and hundreds in quarantine.
“My fellow Grenadians, particularly our brothers and sisters in Carriacou and Petite Martinique, do not be misguided into flouting the law of the land. Do not knowingly endanger your health and that of your family. I encourage you to think and act wisely. There is no shortage of food and we are continuously revising our operations to ensure that we optimise the distribution of goods and restocking of grocery stores,” Dr Mitchell said in the statement.
During a news conference last Monday, Dr Mitchell expressed his concern about the decision by the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to keep its borders open while other countries in the region have closed theirs, as part of the strategy to combat the spread of the contagion which as claimed the lives of thousands and infected more than a million worldwide. “I have to speak to that because I have to be concerned about life. I cannot tell the leadership of St Vincent what to do, but if the decision affects the life of the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, I have to be concerned because a lot of people get foodstuffs from St Vincent, therefore one has to be careful.”
Under the Emergency Powers (Covid-19) regulations, Grenada’s borders remain closed to all internal and external travel with a 24-hour mandatory curfew until 20 April.
“Government’s decision to close the borders,” the Prime Minister said, “was taken after careful consideration, given the detrimental impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on countries around the world. It is intended to be a protective barrier to prevent the spread of the virus here in Grenada.”