Vincentians have been given a long weekend to refresh themselves and reflect on life and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen a spike in cases in recent times.

The two holidays are also aimed at limiting the movement of persons with a view to reducing the spread of infection of the virus.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement in a national address last night.

“I sense that across our nation, the faces of men and women are strained and anxious about the increase in the local Covid cases, the effusive/oozing eruptions of La Soufriere, the socio-economic challenges ahead this year and the uncertainties and the unknown before us.

To be sure, this anxiety among our people, is mixed with a resolve that our faith, our indomitable spirit will see us through, successfully, these awesome challenges. Yet, we perhaps need as a people, to pause, to reflect, to act more assuredly in ways which are inclusive, in solidarity with one another and be engaged fully for the long haul ahead,” he said.

Dr Gonsalves said the words – pause, reflect, act, inclusive, solidarity and engagement constitute an uplifting acronym: PRAISE.

“That is a golden watchword,” he added.

The Prime Minister said the frontline workers in public health education, the police, immigration and others have been bearing the brunt the fight against Covid-19  and they too need to pause, to refresh and to reflect in order for them to be assisted in doing their work optimally in accordance with their mandates.

“Accordingly, earlier today, I instructed the honourable Attorney General to prepare and cause to published in the gazette the requisite legal instruments proclaiming Friday January 22nd and Monday January 25th to be public holidays. These are holidays are for public health.

“So we will pause, reflect, act inclusively, in solidarity with one another and pledge to stay fully engaged to confront head-on our existing and prospective challenges.

“In this coming weekend, Friday to Monday, we will stay at home, stay away from the beaches, or mass gatherings, or places of entertainment or leisure,” Dr Gonsalves said.

Dr Gonsalves is urging business owners to approach Saturday the 23rd as if it were also the usual bank holiday. He said he expects that the traffickers in agricultural produce to Trinidad will still export their commodities on Friday the 22nd.

“They’ll do so as if this export, in the circumstances, is a veritable essential service. The Ministry of Agriculture will make the relevant announcements,” he said.