Seychelles and COVID-19: Shops to close at 6.30 pm; 4-person limit on public gatherings
President Danny Faure announced additional measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Seychelles.
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles' President Danny Faure on Friday announced earlier closing times for shops and a four-person limit on public gatherings, measures by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the island nation.
Faure noted that the number of patients who had tested positive for the coronavirus in Seychelles remained at seven over the last week, a piece of good news and evidence that strict social and travel measures are having an effect.
"This virus does not know borders, race, religion, or financial means: it is an invisible enemy. In such a situation, in order for us to confront this virus and come out victorious, we need to always be on our guard. It is imperative that we respect authority and the measures in place," he said.
With the virus in Seychelles, Faure said that "we need to reorient our daily life habits in line with maintaining physical distance. Social distancing practices are changes in behaviour that can help stop the spread of infections."
Along this line, the President said that as of Monday, March 30, all shops will be closed from 6.30 p.m. as a measure to avoid people gathering outside these establishments.
Another measure taking effect from Monday is the prohibition of gatherings of more than four people in public places.
"In view of this public health emergency, we will continue to review existing laws to ensure the Public Health Commissioner is able to continue taking the necessary measures to protect our health," said the President.
He announced that the government has approved a special allowance for all health workers working on the frontline of this pandemic. This will also apply to staff in immigration and customs at the port and airport.
"We have 3,800 home carers looking after our elderly. They will also receive a special allowance during this period on the condition that they continue to work; continue to give care and attention to our elderly," he added.
For children who receive financial assistance through a dedicated fund, the Agency for Social Protection will make a direct transfer to parents during this period to ensure no child is affected. While citizens on welfare with a special Seychelles Trading Company (STC) card arrangements have been made so that the same card can be used to purchase gas.
Faure said he was "satisfied to see that there is a great effort from our citizens to adapt and adopt new measures faced with this situation we are in. We need to remain consistent with our efforts. We all need to continue maintaining our discipline and cooperation.'
He also talked about the economic repercussion of the pandemic and said that it is clear "that even if we get through the next few months without the spread of COVID-19 among our population, Seychelles is entering a new reality full of uncertainty."
He said that in 2008, Seychelles was in a precarious position when the reserves were very low and debt levels were extremely high. In November 2008, as the global financial crisis started, Seychelles launched its economic reforms.
"We worked very hard together, all of us, to bring our economy to where it is today. We sacrificed, we persevered, and we progressed. It is as though for 12 years, we were climbing a mountain and almost at the top. In the space of less than two weeks, we watch ourselves sliding down, and today, the peak of the mountain is much further away. This coronavirus has set us back. But it will not stop us," said Faure.
"We need to review our expenditures. Review our priorities. It is within this context that the Minister of Finance will present a new Budget on 31 March in response to this new reality we are facing. We will all have to make sacrifices in the coming months. We all need to take our responsibility. As President of the Republic, I have chosen not to take a salary for the next three months," added the President.
Faure said he is confident in the ability of the Seychellois people to overcome these challenging times.
"Together, we will get through this. We made it in 2008 and we will make it in 2020. Let us maintain this spirit of working hard. Let us maintain this spirit of working together. Let us maintain our unity," he said.
Faure concluded in thanking "everyone working on the frontline of this pandemic. We owe a sincere debt of gratitude to all our health professionals and all volunteers. My equal thanks to all other workers assisting in this national effort for the professionalism and devotion demonstrated every day."