Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 31, 2021 (SKNIS): As bus owners and operators continue to provide essential services to passengers during the pandemic, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has implemented guidelines to protect all stakeholders and slow the spread of COVID-19.
On Monday, May 25, Prime Minister Dr. The Honourable Timothy Harris announced 10 measures that were accepted by the Cabinet from local health professionals to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. One such measure included reducing the number of passengers on public transportation (buses, ferries etc.) to 50 percent of the established capacity to facilitate physical distancing and a resultant reduction in the risk of transmission of the virus.
“This is a public health measure and is for a limited time in the first instance and it is to allow for the investigation by the Ministry of Health and to contain the virus that is seemingly spreading at this time,” said Superintendent of Police, Cromwell Henry, during the May 28 edition of the NEOC COVID-19 Press Briefing. “Public service vehicles have been implicated as one of the mode of transport for infected persons, therefore, it has become necessary that we take precautionary measures to protect users of this service.”
Superintendent Henry noted that since 2020 several health and safety protocols were implemented to protect drivers and their passengers, however, the protocols were ignored by numerous persons. He reiterated that the reintroduced measures are to keep everyone safe.
“This new COVID-19 Prevention and Control order merely limits the number of passengers that are permitted, to half of the carrying capacity and reemphasize the mask-wearing and sanitization protocols that have been in place all along,” he said. “The carrying capacity is determined by the number of passengers the vehicle was registered and licensed to carry which should be displayed on a conspicuous place inside the vehicle. This number does not include the driver.”
Superintendent Henry noted that according to the Vehicle and Road Traffic Act two children under the age of 12 equals one passenger. To determine the number of passengers a vehicle is allowed to carry, the driver should look at the number of passengers displayed in the vehicle and divide that number by two. For example, if a vehicle is licensed to transport 14 passengers, due to the recent measures implemented, that vehicle is only permitted to carry seven.
He appealed to owners and conductors of public transport to adhere to all health and safety protocols, as well as to play their part to help bring the country back to near normalcy.
“We, therefore, appeal to bus owners and operators to cooperate with the health authorities as they work to prevent the control and spread of the Coronavirus at this time,” he said. “You can do your part to ensure that we return to quicker normal operations by getting vaccinated and encourage your passengers to do likewise.”