NRP Leader swipes at Premier’s position on COVID-19 restrictions

By MyVue Staff Reporter

Basseterre, Monday, 14th June 2021, (MyVue Leader of the opposition Nevis Reformation Party, Dr. Janice Daniel-Hodge, has criticized the approach taken over the past weekend by the Premier of the island, Mark Brantley, concerning the new COVID-19 restrictions, issued by Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris.

On Saturday, 12th June, the Premier made a media address, informing residents of Nevis, that the island will be open for business, and not be ‘lockdown’ for the next 14 days, as was announced by the Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis, less than 24 hours before, on Friday night, 11th June 2021.

However, the NRP Leader questioned the approach taken by Premier Brantley and suggested that a consultative and united approach with the Prime Minister, might have been the better option.

In his remarks, on Friday, Prime Minister Harris pointed out that all non-essential workers and companies, must operate remotely and not function from their regular offices. This said the prime minister, was designed to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus, given the sudden spike in cases.

Brantley, however, declared that the people of Nevis had elected him to represent them and to act in their best interest and went on to contradict the orders of the prime minister, when he said, “For the avoidance of doubt, our people (in Nevis) are still allowed to attend church services and undertake their business during the hours of 5:00 am and 6:00 pm each day.”

Brantley continued, “Our construction workers are still permitted to go to work. I however urge everyone else not to leave your home unless you absolutely have to. There is no need at this difficult time for drinking and liming and carousing. Please stay home unless you must go out for work or some other essential purpose.”

Brothers and sisters, you note that I have thus far avoided the use of the dreaded word “lockdown”, added the premier.

In the Prime Minister’s address, Harris had pointed out that there would be a curfew from 6:00 pm to 5:00 am, and that from 5:01 am-5:59 pm, all movements were to be restricted, and limited only to certain approved categories of workers. Simply put, there would be a lockdown.

Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris

Expressing her views on the matter on Monday, 14th June, Daniel-Hodge posed a few questions to bring attention to the positions taken by the premier.

“One question that must be answered is why couldn’t the Premier make the case for Nevis in the Federal Cabinet so that the Prime Minister could issue a(n) SRO that reflects consideration for the different situations in St. Kitts and Nevis?,” asked Daniel-Hodge.

She said that given the present COVID-19 challenges, “…when lives and livelihoods continue to be threatened, we as Nevisians expect and deserve representation at the highest level of decision making in our country.”

The NRP Leader also reminded that there are three elected representatives from Nevis in the Federal Cabinet and Parliament. These include Branley, Eric Evelyn, and Alexis Jeffers.

“Were they not present at the Cabinet meeting to discuss and provide inputs to the SRO, on behalf of Nevisians?,“ asked Daniel-Hodge.

She further argued that “Collaboration and inclusivity are essential to deliver effective solutions in these times of uncertainty. Our aim should be to minimize conflicts and to act in the best interest of the masses.”

The NRP Leader suggested that “A peacefull approach and mindset is critical to minimizing conflict and divisiveness and to maintain the best possible balance among all the people within the Federation. This is not the time for division. This is not the time to fight one another and to create unnecessary tension.”

The issue continues to generate widespread debate on local radio talk shows and via social media. Many expressed the view that indeed special provisions could have been made to accommodate the less risky situation on Nevis, which currently has no active COVID-19 cases. Members of the public, however, question the public approach adopted by the premier.

The federal government has not publicly responded to the actions taken by the premier.

Featured Photo: L-R, NRP Leader, Dr. Janice Daniel-Hodge, Premier, Mark Brantley

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