Next week, the police will begin to issue $500 tickets to anyone not wearing a face mask in public areas.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Authorities in St. Kitts and Nevis will step up enforcement of the legal requirement for face masks to be worn by individuals when in public.

Superintendent of Police Cromwell Henry noted that some people have been playing cat and mouse with law enforcement, putting on their masks when police are nearby and then taking them off when the officers leave the area.

Abdias Samuel, Chairman of the National COVID-19 Task Force, said the time for action is now as preparations are ongoing for a phased reopening of the border in October.

“We started with education, advising you to wear your mask, and then we moved on to enforcement,” said Mr. Samuel. “They mean business now and … by next week when the police start to issue the $500 tickets for not wearing the masks, I hope there is no public outcry.”

Samuel pointed out that the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States had designated St. Kitts and Nevis as a destination with a “very low risk” of COVID-19 transmission.

“Officials will continue to work hard to flatten the curve of the novel coronavirus in the coming weeks and months but everyone must play their part,” he said. “The call is for everyone to practise proper hand hygiene, maintain social distancing and to wear face masks when in public areas.”

These measures are outlined in the Saint Christopher and Nevis Statutory Rules and Orders No. 39 of 2020 Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (No. 14) Regulations. This means that they are not just advice from health officials, but they are the laws of the land.