By Kinney James
On March 30th 2020 a little around 10:30 pm, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis the Rt. Honourable Timothy Harris, announces a full 24-hour curfew of the twin island federation until April 3rd 2020.
Immediately concerns started being raised on all platforms of social media with persons wondering if more cases of the deadly Coronavirus or the Covid-19, had been discovered. With firm affirmation however, the Prime Minister assures the listening audience that there had been no more positive results of existing tests awaiting results or confirmation of any news cases. This was a move in which the opposition had been calling for but the government and relevant authorities saw no reason to implement as yet. Was this now the right call or had we missed our chance to slow or even stop the spread of this worldwide pandemic?
March 31st saw another day of panic shopping by citizens who had been reassured by the Prime Minister, that there was sufficient food on the island as the port was operating like normal with the arrival of multiple containers of food. Something about some of the citizens of St Kitts and Nevis though, they just never listen and fell right back into panic mood. Some persons however, felt it was justified for when the Prime Minister made the announcement, he ended by saying until April 3rd in the first instance. Was this a hint that this full 24-hour curfew which excluded only a few essential workers in different job areas, could be extended after a review? That thought was enough to throw the panic switch for many only stacked their homes with food for a certain amount of time and this new unknown was uncharted territory for some so the shopping had to be done. The good thing though in some instances, there were pictures circulating of lines outside some supermarkets, where persons could be seen practising social distancing, a call that had seemed in previous days to have fallen on deaf ears. The time quickly ran by, the last minute shopping was completed and before you knew it 7 pm came and the roads were all quiet or were they?
At 10 pm armed with a camera (ended up using my phone, Samsung S10+ takes great pics), my ID, a little music in my ears, car filled with gas and determination like never before, I left the comfort of my home to be able to give those who couldn’t a look into St Kitts on a full 24-hour curfew. I travelled into the heart of Basseterre to fort street which is normally booming with life on just about any night to find it quiet and deserted. Not a person or vehicle was in sight or so I thought as a gentleman whom I felt may just be homeless, exited Princes Street asking me for $3.00 to buy a Chinese food. “I can’t help you but you need to go home,” I said to him, and I really couldn’t because I did not walk with any money as I knew there would be no need for any. He quickly agreed and disappeared across Liverpool Row and once again I was the only one in sight on a Tuesday night after 10 pm on Fort Street all because of the deadly Coronavirus. I then got back into my car and drove up fort street which felt like it lasted forever as I drove slowly in complete denial still at what I was experiencing. I got to the top then looked to my right and saw there was life in front of the Basseterre Police Station.
Excited at the opportunity to not only have a conversation with others who are allowed to be on the road but I also thought it would be a chance to get a picture showing the citizens that the police are mobilising to keep persons off the road, in an attempt to uphold the curfew in place to try and slow or stop the spread of Covid-19. However, at my first attempt at this, I quickly found out it was not meant to be. I pulled over and declared who I was, where I worked and what I wanted to do to which one office replied sure. I existed the car, phone in hand ready to take the shot of some of the persons working hardest to keep us safe and the Coronavirus from spreading further.
Officer: why are you out?
Me: Huh? I already said I’m media I just need …
Officer: media is not supposed to be out.
Me: but officer I spoke to the high command &
Officer: The C.O.P cannot tell you that you need a letter.
Confused and a little irritable I proceeded back to my car while hearing another officer say “if the C.O.P told you that he inviting you into a cell you should just go in.” I knew I went through the correct channels I had made the necessary calls to make sure something like this did not happen. Embarrassed and feeling defeated I drove home and vented to some of my close friends in a chat before calling a top police official to find out what went wrong. After a few minutes I got a call back with an apology that the officer claimed to had not known media was allowed to be out and I was assured for the second time for the day that I would not be stopped in performing my duties.
Hesitantly, I agreed after some influencing by the police officer, to go and continue my work which I did. The route I had decided on I made it shorter for now I was a little uncomfortable and prayed I didn’t meet another police stop until I was done.
I took the FT WILLIAMS HIGHWAY and proceeded to Frigate bay, passing a few Ross Security vehicles along the way. The road was empty, too empty for this time of the night on this day of the week, the reality of it all starting to slowly sink in. Just weeks ago this road would have been busy with traffic persons heading to the infamous Frigate Bay Strip, one of the highlights of the night life here in St Kitts. Maybe they were heading to the Casino over at the Marriott’s where you were almost always sure to have a crowd. So many things would have been there to do in the FRIGATE BAY area but this global threat known as the CORONAVIRUS or COVID-19, does not have an interest in nightlife only in affecting life. I arrived on the hill just before the second round about and my heart dropped as I heard the siren of the parked police vehicle at the side of the road signalling me to pull over. Would this be a repeat of BASSETERRE? I slowly came to a complete stop in front of the police vehicle, turned on the interior light, grabbed my ID from the overhead visor and braced for whatever was next.
Officer: Kupid what are you doing out?
Kupid: media just want to take some pics and show persons what is going on.
Officer: do you have your ID?
Kupid: sure here it is.
Officer: ok you can go.
Finally, an officer who knows what is going on and isn’t operating like a pompous bastard. (Side note he is my cousins husband I would have complained that tomorrow). I went on to describe what I had experienced in town to which he replied and said but it was announced and it is in the REGULATIONS that media is allowed out. We laughed about how some officers act as if they are above the law then I proceeded to the strip where it was all made clearer, the CORONAVIRUS is here and it is not only affecting the people but the economy as well.
I arrived at the newly completed entrance to the strip just before the first bar you meet on your left coming from the Timothy Beach Hotel end the well-known Mr X Shigidy Shack which was in complete darkness. There was no one a far as my eyes could see. Chinchilla’s, the newly opened Zanzi Bar, Kathy’s, Vibes Beach Bar, Oceans Beach Bar, the just newly reopened on the strip Boozies Bar all were locked up tight with no trace of night life or a worker to be found. The most shocking discovery, the bar that made this all sink in that this is really happening, Inon’s Bar was closed.
Inon’s Bar is known to have customers 7 days a week to late hours into the early morning, dedicated individuals a unique clientele if you must who go the strip to only lime at Inon’s but tonight was not the case. There were no regulars present reasoning about life on a hole or having a friendly dispute over a basketball game, it was just nothing. Feeling the weight of the story I would have to go and write, I proceeded to leave the strip wondering how best can I get persons to understand that what is happening right now is serious? How best can I encourage them to listen to the relevant authorities and help keep all others who aren’t infected safe? Would it come over as political or would persons just see me as a concerned member of the media urging them to do the right thing and keep the faith and we can get through this? Lives have already been affected even those who have not contracted the virus are feeling it but this is as much as I can do. Show St Kitts as some of you have never seen it before and hope that my message would be read, understood and appreciated.
St Kitts and Nevis “we small but we talawah,” a phrase echoed occasionally to show how we overcome all odds, how we survive, how we persevere but what we need right now is patience and understanding. Wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay hydrated, make sure to take in vitamin c, know what are the symptoms, listen the relevant health authorities and your local radio stations for updates and news, stay home and remember the hotline if you are experiencing flu like symptoms 311. This is just night one of our 24-hour curfew, there is still more to come and I will keep you posted.