(St Lucia News Online) – The parliament of Saint Lucia on Tuesday approved the Emergency Powers Disaster (COVID-19) Order which gives the government wide-ranging powers as the island face the onslaught of the dreaded coronavirus.
In a rare move, the statutory instrument received support from both sides of the aisle in the lower and upper house.
Addressing parliament, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet described the threat posed by the virus as a crisis.
“COVID does not discriminate, it does not know the difference between political sides,” he stated. “And many of us have household in which, I know in my own constituency, that people sleep where one person is on one political side and the other person is on the other political side. And I have seen it within our own communities that we’ve learnt to live with those differences. And I will desist from making any reference to politics …”
Opposition leader, Philip J. Pierre lent his party’s full support for the instrument, despite some reservation.
“So we really hope that this is a new, that’s a different beginning to what we are accustomed to,” he stated. “So we support the orders … there are some reservations that these could have happened under other laws but we have taken the position that the situation is too grave, it’s too grave.”
He pointed out that his party is concerned about the health of the people of Saint Lucia, which he said, comes first.
“If we are making a mistake, it is for the health of the people of Saint Lucia,” Pierre said.
He pointed out that if the virus gets out of hand, the country won’t be able to control it.
There are some 20 clauses in the order.
Among them the power to declare an area, place or building a quarantine facility and the power for the Chief Medical Officer to detain someone believed to be infected or contaminated with coronavirus.