By Elesha George
Members of parliament passed a resolution that will allow the government to continue to enforce a State of Public Emergency for the country.
On Thursday, all 12 members in attendance unanimously agreed to the extension which had been declared by the Governor General on March 25. This will give the government legal authority to extend curfew periods and to suspend the rights of residents as necessary, while the country prepares for the likelihood of a second wave of Covid-19.
“This is what will help us to manage both the health and economic situation associated with Covid and as you know it requires restricting certain personal freedoms, [and] civil liberties of our people,” said Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
Section 20 subsection (5) of the Antigua & Barbuda Constitution states that a resolution for public emergency passed by the House of Parliament is allowed to remain in force for three months or for a shorter period specified by parliament. In this instance, the resolution will begin from May 30 and continue until July 31 unless it is otherwise revoked by a resolution.
Browne told parliament that his government is satisfied that the continued effectiveness of the various protocols and measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 requires the state of emergency.
“What we’re trying to do is save lives,” the PM stressed as he asked for residents to take personal responsibility for their health and wellness and to increase national productivity within private and public sectors.
He also reiterated the possibility of downsizing the public sector, warning “lazy workers” in the public sector that they will be the first to be severed.
“My government will go the extra mile to protect jobs. We do not believe in any form of retrenchment but you never can tell. If this thing continues and there is a second wave of Covid, especially in our source markets, you never can tell.
“There are some of you who are extremely lazy, you find every excuse not to work. You will be first to go home if we have to retrench, notwithstanding your political persuasion. We hope it doesn’t get to that stage but you have to understand if you remain unproductive, you’re literally making yourself redundant and you will be first to go,” Browne pledged.