BROOKLYN, NY – As St. Lucians marked the island’s 42nd Anniversary of Independence on Monday, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet declared that the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented the usual public celebrations, would neither define nor deter the country.
Chastanet said his government and the people of St. Lucia had to be forward-thinking, as he stressed the importance of this year’s Independence theme, “A Resilient Nation: We can. We will”.
“Even while we continue to fight COVID, we must also begin to look beyond it, to position ourselves and our country to overcome this pandemic and the scars it will leave on our country in much the same way that we have overcome every natural disaster or challenge that has confronted us in the past, especially since Independence 42 years ago,” the Prime Minister said in an address to the nation.
“This 42nd Independence anniversary proffers us the opportunity to appreciate how far we have come, but more importantly, how far we still have to go.
“As the resilient nation and people that we are, we can, and we will get that job done. This year’s celebrations, though different, will give the entire country reason to celebrate and improve our determination to emerge out of the COVID pandemic,” he added.
Prime Minister Chastanet acknowledged the pain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the government’s efforts to provide income support, reopen the economy, and promise that his administration was constantly looking at ways to reach even more people and stimulate the economy.
As the situation improves, the economy would be further opened up to give people more opportunities to make a living.
“The fact is COVID-19 has dictated certain policies, as we try to minimize social interaction and movement. It has been a mammoth task, and as a result, some persons and businesses have been more severely impacted than others: our local attractions, restaurants, bars, and bus drivers, to name a few. This weighs heavily on our minds as leaders, but we need to keep COVID-19 under control while also allowing some sectors to open,” he said.
“Once we can more significantly reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, we will open up even more sectors. This will take immense cooperation.”
Meantime, the government on Monday released its Independence Honours list, which includes late Jamaican hotelier Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, who is being posthumously been awarded The St. Lucia Cross for distinguished service in the areas of tourism, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy.