Premier of Nevis Mark Brantley convenes his monthly press conference today and The Observer will bring you updates live via this article.
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10:00 am: Premier Brantley is introduced by Wakely Daniel to make his opening statement.
10:03 am: Brantley announces that six police officers of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police force received their letter confirming their ranks two of them are serving in the Nevis Division Joel Caines serving as Inspector and Kishawn Charles serving as Seargent.
10:05 am: The Premier addressed the unfolding tragedy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines noting the people of that Federation are in his prayers.
“We as a government and as a people have made an appeal to donate much-needed supplies to the people of St. Vincent who are being impacted by the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.”
He noted that last week Tuesday two 20 foot containers with water and other supplies were sent by the Nevis Disaster Management Department as part of a humanitarian effort geared towards assist fellow Caribbean people
10:07 am: He addressed the Cherry Gardens homeowners who were badly affected by what he described as “poorly constructed” soakaways and sceptics.
“If you go into those homes you would find that some people have actually started to run water onto the roads and we have a situation where drain water is running on to the island’s roads.”
He said it creates a serious health concern for people in that area and promised to address the matter with the government undertaking and underwriting the cost of fixing the soakaway and septic issues
10:12 am: Addressing COVID-19 vaccination Premier Brantley said as of Tuesday some 2972 persons on Nevis had received their first shot of the vaccine.
“The numbers are nowhere near where we would like to see them because the medical team and the science have advised that 70 percent is the benchmark as advised we are about 36 percent of where we need to be on Nevis.”
He said work needs to be done and that the numbers each day are not particularly encouraging. implored people to be responsible and do the right thing and think of the vaccine as protection for “you and your family.
Brantley urged teachers to be vaccinated as they would more than likely be interacting with unvaccinated people and would increase the risk for that person and the teacher.
10:26 am: Brantley Empathized with the people of India during their difficult period in handling the COVID-19 pandemic reminding them that St. Kitts and Nevis remain grateful to the government of that country for donating the first batch of vaccines to the Federation.
10:30 am: He announced that effective May 1 anyone seeking a work permit or residency will have to present evidence that they have been vaccinated.
“We feel that it is a reasonable measure to take in these circumstances.”
10:32 am As Minister of Foreign Affairs met with the USA Secretary of State with other Caribbean leaders and discussed making vaccines available to the Caribbean.
10:38: He congratulated the Bank of Nevis for acquiring Royal Bank saying that it was no small measure that the bank hoisted its sign on one of the prominent landmarks on Fort Street in St. Kitts.
10:40: Urged those in areas of power and water to have a conversation with the various companies to figure out a payment structure that will allow them to remain connected.
10:45: He gave updates surrounding various ministries and departments regarding some of their ongoing activities.
10:50: Branltely sent a special invitation to the people of St. Kitts to spend their Labour Day and Whit Monday weekends in Nevis as special rates would be on offer.
11:00 He empathized with those still waiting for severance payments but noted considerable efforts are being made to work through the numbers.
11:05 Brantley wraps up his opening statement and invites questions from the media.
11:07: the first question comes from The Observer’s Monique Washington who questioned the Premier on the fall out of not reaching herd immunity by the summer and backup plans if the tourism sector is not restarted as soon as possible.
She also questioned his Brantley legal opinion on businesses forcing employees to take the vaccine. And an update on Newcastle Fire Station
In response, Brantley noted the new Newcastle Police station will house both police and fire officers.
Brantley said they are also looking at improving other roads all over the island including the island main road.
Addressing the forced vaccination on employees he said it was universally accepted that people are not mandated to take a vaccine but if you choose not to take the vaccine then they may be consequences for not doing so.
He said that privately-owned businesses are who determines who work at their establishment and can decide not to employ unvaccinated people and creates debatable issues. Brantley said the cruise ships will not allow their guest to interact with unvaccinated people.
On an alternative to tourism, there is no easy solution he says because the infrastructure is dependent on tourism.
He noted that the movie industry in one such avenue, as well as construction and agriculture, have been incentivised to be developed further.
Brantley said they do not have an answer to replace tourism overnight.
He is hopeful that herd immunity will be achieved once each sees the value of taking the vaccine that is in their best interest. “If you vaccinate your chances of getting work increases.”
11:17: Brantley questioned on what is the feedback like in the public sector in Nevis and what is his position on mandating it.
He was also asked if the government is doing enough to reach out to the small man on the street who are the most vaccine-hesitant.
Brantley said they need to do more to get every man and woman vaccinated but noted that the hesitancy has come from all quarters including health professionals but there are plans to do more.
His position on the vaccination of public officials he said was encouraging and advocating.
“I am begging, pleading and beseeching.”
He reminded that the public service has been paid on time and in full but cannot promise that will remain if the economy does not turn around. The Premier said some has lulled themselves into a false sense of security because of how well the pandemic was managed.
11:30: He was asked to provide an update on works at the Alexandra Hospital and the VAIA
He said at the Hospital the external works are done and are in the process of reconfiguring the interior to ensure the correct flow can take place.
At the airport, he said they opted to scale back the expansion project but cater to the private jet market and are still working with the designers.
11:45: He is asked is the government interested in opening test centres in Nevis and also about the alleged teacher-student sexual claims.
Brantley says he sees no value in mass testing but sees value in mass vaccinations as it helps to solve the problem of the disease itself.
He said two male teachers were involved in inappropriate behaviour and noting the matter is under investigation and insists there must be a safe environment for students to go to school. He said they were unaware of any report of any physical engagement with young people and that the reports were about inappropriate comments that were made.
He condemned the circulating of photos of you women involved in the incident.
11:50 He is questioned on how the movie industry is impacting the people of Nevis.
He said they are on to something really good when one considers how negotiations have panned out noting he was doing his part to foster and develop the relationships.
He said almost 40 locals have been directly employed from St. Kitts and Nevis and over 150 extras in the first movie and seven now with speaking parts in the second.
12:10 Premier Brantley now bring the press conference to a close and invites all to return in a months time for another edition