Audio of Hon Paul Lewis Statement:
Full text below:
It is undeniable that these have been trying times for our island. We have experienced so much shared loss in our small community, that when one is taken from us, the pain of it is felt by all of us who live here and share in what Montserrat has to offer.
Today, is another sad day as we collectively mourn the loss of yet another of our loved ones. To the immediate and extended families left to mourn, I extend my deepest condolence. My prayers are with you all.
This is a time when people experiencing grief and loss, tend to lean on their support systems. However, not everyone is fortunate to have a strong support system which they can lean on. Therefore, those of us who can, I ask of you to reach out and be a shoulder to cry on or lend an ear, or give whatever assistance you can in help ease another of our fellow Brother or Sister’s burden.
Our beloved Montserrat always seems to be at the center of some form of disaster, be it volcano, hurricanes or this recent spike of Covid-19 gripping our land.
We are called upon ever so often to be resilient. and now, we are seeing the mental effects of these various trials, as the stress levels takes its toll on some members of our society. We shouldn’t overlook the mental well-being of our citizens, or even take it lightly at all. The rise in stress levels and how it’s affecting the people of our island is the other unseen brewing crisis surrounding this COVID-19 Pandemic. We have to be there for each other now more than ever.
It’s a difficult time for our people and our island.
The Health and Education Ministries have been severely impacted. The island on a whole is facing one of its great challenges. Although, we have not been locked down by the Government - with three hundred plus positive COVID cases, and eight hundred plus isolated at home – this latest surge is having a crippling effect, as the economy grinds to a halt, which effectively can be seen as a shut down by natural order.
We have seen the COVID positive cases rise so quickly over a short period to over three hundred. The health staff is obviously being stretched even further. Teachers and students have contracted the virus resulting in low attendance at schools.
I pray for the speedy recovery of all persons COVID-19 positive. I do also pray that we will soon see a drop in the positive cases and a reduction of persons in quarantine. Let’s all try our best to follow the protocols and practices that work to keep us and others safe.
I am taking this this opportunity to also thank those workers in both the private and public sectors, who are on the job making sure services are delivered. I know you too are stretched as you work to make up for the short staff at your workplace. I know the challenges and the concerns of your family and loved ones as you walk out the door each day, heading into work to serve our community. Your service and your commitment, I value and admire fully. Thank you all!
I urge Supervisors and Heads of Departments to keep an open dialogue with your staff on the way forward, as working together is the best way to ensure the welfare of staff and the continuity of services. There are staff members who have excellent ideas but need the support of management to implement effectively.
I further call on all public officials to be flexible in decision making. Sometimes situations evolve so quickly, over a short period, thus decision makers must be prepared to make the necessary adjustments to suit the ever-changing scenarios. It’s not wise to be hard and fast, or stubborn. Let’s make the correct decisions to stop the spread of COVID-19 here on our island.
Not everyone is coping well under the present circumstances. Some people need the help of their Government. The assistance needed will vary from person to person.
This is as good a time to remind Government of the much-needed relief the public called for, even before this present COVID-19 spike.
The Healthcare and Education sectors need urgent attention. There is relief needed on the cost of fuel and LPG that is still outstanding.
To help those falling through the crack, a reduction on the duty on basic commodities is a must. Furthermore, I am calling for a month or two of tax-free salaries for all workers, in order to provide much needed disposable income at this time.
We are being challenged once more. All of us must play our part – both the people and the Government. We will get past this most certainly, but we must do it with proper decisions that caters to and protects us all as citizens and residents, as we navigate this current COVID-19 surge.
May God continue to bless you all and may you all stay safe.