Montserrat public service to operate remotely for at least two weeks as COVID cases rise

Civil servants must follow remote working schedules set by heads, report in-person when asked to do so 

BRADES, MONTSERRAT — The Office of the Deputy Governor has announced that all public sector employees must work remotely for at least the next two weeks as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases rise on the island.

The announcement came as the nation with a population of just under 5,000 people, as of 2020, recorded 13 new cases of the virus, bringing its total number of active cases to 21 — not to mention the 79 results that remain pending.

A young woman works on a laptop at home. (Photo: Getty Images)

In a public statement announcing the new remote working mandate, the Office of the Deputy Governor said, “Due to the sharp increase in COVID-19 infections, the Honourable Deputy Governor Mrs. Lyndell Simpson has issued a directive for the public service to operate remotely over the next two working weeks.

“This decision has been taken as the government of Montserrat on Monday, January 3, 2022, introduced tighter COVID-19 suppression measures in response to the rate of increase in positive cases.

“Therefore, effective Tuesday, January 4, 2022, until Tuesday, January 18, 2022, the public service will offer limited services by phone and online where in-person appointments are not tenable.

“Staff has been advised to corporate with the schedule set by permanent secretaries and heads, and report in-person when asked to do so.”

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    Gatherings restricted 

    The new policy for public sector employees to work remotely comes just days after Premier Joseph Farrell spoke to the importance of keeping the economy open as much as possible while mitigating COVID spread.

    Montserrat Premier Joseph Farrell.

    In his New Year’s Day message, the premier told the nation, “Fellow Montserratians, the island cannot remain closed indefinitely.

    “This pandemic will be with us for some time and we must be prepared to live with it, while at the same time undertaking our daily activities.”

    Farrell added, “Your government’s goal remains unchanged — to ensure the people of Montserrat are safe and healthy, while at the same time building the economy, providing opportunity for persons to work and have access to a decent standard of living.

    “Realizing that this goal has been made more complex by the health pandemic, we will continue to do our best to implement policies that will help us to achieve it.”

    Shortly afterwards, on Monday, the premier held a press conference in which he updated the country on new measures to put an end to COVID-19 cases, including a new curfew, limitations on the number of people allowed to gather and other social restrictions.

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