The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment has advised Vincentians to avoid large social gatherings and continue to practise physical distancing during the upcoming Easter Holiday weekend
In a release issued on Sunday, the Ministry noted that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a predominantly Christian society, and the upcoming Easter weekend is a very important time for Christians, noting that it is also a time of major socializing activities, including boat rides, picnics and parties, as well as other forms of mass gatherings.
The Ministry of Health further said it recognizes the vital importance of spiritual and psychological Health and wellbeing to overall wellness.
However, it said in keeping with its Physical Distancing and Mass Gathering Advisory issued on March 22, and recommended hygiene practices, the COVID-19 Task Force has issued a number of recommendations for the Easter weekend beginning Friday April 10th to Monday, April 13th.
In relation to Church Services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Churches are being asked to consider not having any physical gatherings, but rather to consider a National Day of Prayer on Good Friday lead by Religious Leaders broadcasting from various media houses. Churches are also being asked to consider broadcasting by radio and on social media platforms a National Ecumenical Easter Sunday Service, conducted by a limited number of representative Ministers and Pastors, from a single place of worship capable of safely accommodating these officials.
The Ministry said, if physical gatherings must continue, then there must be strict enforcement of physical distancing in places of worship to ensure that persons are at least 3 feet apart from each other.
In relation to Social Gatherings, the Ministry is advising Vincentians to follow the Stay Safe Stay at Home practice, and stressed that there should be no boat rides; picnics; goat cooks; beach outings; river outings; parties; or any other social gatherings whether private or public. Van Drivers are being asked to protect themselves and their families by supporting this Stay Safe Stay at Home guidance by staying off the roads for this period.
In relation to Hygiene Precautions: the Ministry advised persons traveling in public vehicles and standing in crowded places, to use cloth masks correctly (ie with a pouch to hold a surgical mask or flannel piece to provide additional protection). The Ministry said correct and safe use of masks requires that the front of the mask is not touched, and that they are washed regularly. (Persons can visit the SVG Health Facebook page for further information on the correct use.)
Persons are advised to wear a surgical mask if they are caring for someone at home, and hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers is encouraged.
The Ministry said these recommendations for limiting non-essential contact are guided by scientific evidence and will go a long way towards reducing the spread of COVID-19. St Vincent and the Grenadines now has seven (7) confirmed cases of COVID-19 on record. The Ministry of Health says the support and co-operation of all citizens is needed at this time, to minimize any further spread of COVID-19.