Government of Montserrat Working on Measured Reopening of the Economy

The Government of Montserrat has begun to have discussions with private sector entities including the Chamber of Commerce to consider a measured approach to reopening its economy. Montserrat will relax its full-day 24-hour curfew measures this Friday to allow for daily access to supermarkets and other services, however the restrictions on numbers for gatherings and others activities remain in place.

This was revealed in this week’s address from Premier Joseph E. Farrell. He said he was pleased that the island had not recorded any new cases of the coronavirus disease since April 12.

As at this morning, April 29, the government is reporting that two people have fully recovered, there are seven cases still acting, 32 people are in quarantine, and there are results from three samples pending. These results are expected later today.

While the signs are showing that Montserrat is the moving in the right direction in curtailing the spread of the virus, the premier said “we are in no way near the end of this pandemic. The science tells us that countries can expect a second wave, which could be worse, because countries would have hastened to return to the normal way of life too soon. Your government will take the advice of the health professionals and act accordingly.”

The premier said his government’s ambition is to “undertake island wide testing for the virus and for this to become a reality it is absolutely imperative that we equip the health team with the required resources.” He added that a testing machine is on its way along with testing kits and once the relevant training has been completed in country, they will be in a better position to track, trace and test for the virus.

Farrell empathised with the need for a return to eating out and visits with family and friends however the time is not yet quite right.  He went on to explain that the second full seven-day 24-hour lock down has ended and that a new system for the coming seven has been agreed upon.

The measures take effect from May 1 to May 7, 2020 and are to continue to protect the health of the population and with a view to reviving some aspects of the island’s economy.

“The Order now in place which provided for a total lockdown with some exceptions will be amended as an interim Order, as government seeks to identify and expand on the list of businesses and services it would allow to operate.
To this end, as of 12:00a.m Friday May 1 to Thursday May 7, 2020 at 12:00a.m., the following measures will be in place.
The following businesses may operate daily as follows—

  • banks, from 8 a.m. to 2 pm;
  • a gas station, from 8 am to 6 pm;
  • a bakery, from 8 am to 6 pm;
  • a grocery store, wholesale businesses or agricultural produce businesses, from 8 a.m. to 6p.m;
  • a money transfer business, from 8 am to 6pm;
  • a business connected with fisheries, at a time approved by the Minster of Health and
  • a water, electricity, telecommunications or internet service providers may open from 8a.m. to 4 p.m. to receive bill payments.

During this period, apart from the essential services and business providers, a person may leave home during the curfew to –

  • shop for necessities to include food, medicine, fuel or other necessities
  • conduct a banking transaction;
  • Exercise
    • Engage in an activity to include running, walking, swimming, alone or with one other member of the same household, each day.
    • These exercise activities must be done during the hours of 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., remaining at all times within a distance of one mile from your home.
    • Please note that a motor vehicle is not to be used to get to and from the place where these activities are being done.
  • Funerals – During this period,
    • A funeral may be conducted; and persons can therefore attend a funeral
    • The gathering for the purposes of a funeral is a maximum of fifteen persons to include the officiating pastor, the funeral director and assistants.
  • Social distancing – During this period,
    • social distancing must be adhered to at all times and establishments must display social distancing markers inside and outside of their establishment.
    • While shopping customers are encouraged to protect themselves by wearing masks in crowded areas, and also walk with an umbrella and water when leaving home.
    • The number of customers inside of any business establishment must maintain a distance of 6 feet from each other.
    • The number of persons allowed to gather in a public place remains at four.

He reiterated that this was an interim measure until Friday May 8th when additional businesses and services will be added, in what will be phase-one of the reopening of the economy.
“We have reached out to a number of stakeholders and have received some positive feedback, we thank everyone for their valuable contributions and wish to assure them that we will use the information received as we proceed with a phased-approach to opening up the economy,” Farrell said.
Consideration is to be given to areas such as landscaping, pool services, hardware stores, sand minding, and some types of construction activities, with control on the number of persons allowed to operate, among other COVID-19 health and safety provisions.