Starting tonight from 7PM until Saturday, February 13, 2021, a night time curfew has been mandated for Montserrat.
The announcement came this afternoon from government officials, who earlier today confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 on island.
For the next seven days, the protocols are as follows:
- A curfew in effect from 7PM to 5AM. Be off the road by 6:30PM. Only essential workers will be permitted to travel.
- There will be no public gatherings. Five or less family members are allowed to be together.
- No church or funeral services.
- Bars, restaurants and stores must be closed by 6:30PM.
- Wearing a mask is mandatory in public.
- Schools are expected to operate as normal throughout the week.
Government workers and frontline staff in businesses who must be in direct contact with the public are expected to wear masks while serving them. Bar owners, bartenders, and waiters are also expected to wear masks when serving customers.
Premier Joseph Farrell said currently the two confirmed patients are in isolation at home and the 17 primary contacts identified have been placed in quarantine, while they await test results. It is expected that these results will be available on Sunday.
The two cases are related with a male, who was a part of the Farm Workers Programme which allows residents to go to Canada for the season, imported the virus. While in quarantine, he was in contact with the female patient, who would have had contact with many more people.
Farrell said it was absolutely critical that they get control of the situation as any additional cases would significantly impact the island. Health authorities have previously said the island’s medical system cannot manage a full scale outbreak of COVID-19.
Also of concern is whether the virus is the original form of COVID-19 or one of the new variants which are said to be contagious. Minister of Health, Charles T. Kirnon said the samples have been sent on to CARPHA to request support in identifying the variant. These results could take up to two weeks.
Up until yesterday, Montserrat had no cases of the virus for six months. Minister Kirnon said this made residents complacent and the government had already taken steps to beef up controls on the public wearing of masks and prosecuting anyone breaking quarantine.
The current quarantine fine is $500 Eastern Caribbean dollars for the first infraction and $1000 for a second. Police have been asked to stringently enforce the law. Breaking the quarantine can result in the fine given for anyone leaving isolation early and people who visit others in quarantine.
The health minister said they are pursuing acquiring monitoring bracelets as a deterrent, given that the use of various properties to serve as quarantine facilities was not practical due to their small size.
Officials hinted that if further cases are confirmed even more stringent measures will need to be implemented. Premier Farrell also added that the vaccination programme will begin on Monday as scheduled.
Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should call the Hotline at 496-9724.