Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister, Gaston Alphonso Browne addresses the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters.
Associated Press / Jason DeCrow

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government is re-thinking its strategy in allowing persons entry into the island after some visitors have threatened to take legal action over the requirements for a coronavirus (Covid-19) test on arrival on the island.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne, speaking on his radio program recently said that some tourists were objecting to the tests.

Antigua and Barbuda was among early Caribbean countries that reopened their international airports after closing down the facilities as part of the facilities to stem the spread of the virus.

He said some guests are saying you don’t have the right to put anything in my nose, adding that some tourists were arguing that both the tests and the hesitance of health officials to allow them to leave the country after they tested positive in a violation of their rights.

He said the government has been made aware by one visitor of international health regulations “which she reckons precludes countries from doing these invasive swabs”.

Browne told radio listeners that two foreign nations had accused health authorities of violating their constitutional rights, “their right to travel (and) holding them against their will.”

Barbados

The Barbados government announced the lifting of a curfew put in place since March to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as the island reopens its borders to accommodate regional and international flights.

Speaking at a news conference, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said the lifting of the curfew would take effect from July 1 and that the airport will resume normal operations when an Air Canada flight is due to arrive on July 12.

She told reporters it would be followed by a British Airways flight on July 18, JetBlue on July 25 and Virgin Atlantic on Aug. 1.

Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) is to arrive sometime in mid-July.

Mottley said tourism is Barbados’ “core business” and as a result, the island could not keep its borders closed indefinitely, noting that during the meetings with the social partnership recently there had been no objections to the reopening the island’s borders.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds said that several protocols would be put in place before visitors could enter Barbados, declaring that the safety of airport and of the population was of paramount importance.

He said travelers from outside the Caribbean would have to take a COVID-19 PCR Antigen test 72 hours before they were scheduled to come to Barbados. The test will have to be accredited by a laboratory approved by the Ministry of Health. Passengers from within the Caribbean will have to take a test one week prior to departure.

Caribbean

Caribbean hotel, tourism and health officials have unveiled a new initiative they say will help safeguard the health of travelers and employees within the tourism sector.

The COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force said the comprehensive health safety guidelines, supported by an aggressive training schedule, are aimed at reaching thousands of the region’s tourism employees in the coming weeks and months.

It said that the initial set of guidelines includes detailed checklists backed by health safety training for various tourism industry sectors, including ground transportation, accommodation providers, food and beverage, and attractions.

General health safety protocols have also been created and will be supported with training delivered by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to a wide-cross section of employees and owners in the tourism industry.

Companies in the region which participate in the training will be recognized and accommodation providers which also join CARPHA’s online Tourism Health Information System will be eligible to receive the Caribbean Travel Health Assurance Stamp, adding further assurance to travelers about their commitment to health safety.

Guyana

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA) has delayed the phased opening of Cheddi Jagan International airport, which was scheduled to reopen its runaway last week to international commercial flights.

However, in a statement, the GCCA said it consulted with the Ministry of Public Health and has made some adjustments to its reopening.

Guyana Civil Aviation Authority Director General Egbert Field said the authority and the National COVID-19 Task Force consider the health of Guyanese and the nation as a top priority and that triggered the delay of the reopening plan.

The airports, under the current phase, will continue to allow limited repatriation flights, outgoing flights, cargo flights, medivac flights and special authorized flights.

Phase two, which is expected to allow additional reparation and commercial flights, will now commence on Aug. 1.

Grenada

Grenada Minister of Tourism, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen has called on regional countries to take another look at taxes on air travel within the region as Caribbean countries begin to resume tourism activity as part of efforts to rebuild their economies that have been badly hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Modeste-Curwen said the Caribbean market must be seen as critical to the rebuilding process, urging a review of existing taxes on intra-Caribbean travel and the impact they are having on the desire for travel among the Caribbean people.

The tourism minister said the Caribbean had done an “exceedingly great job” in containing the virus, enhancing its appeal as a target market for sister islands.

He said the Caribbean has been a source market for Grenada, especially in certain seasonal activities, such as carnival.

Modeste-Curwen said the taxes that are charged on tickets in the region will kill the desire to have more intra-regional Caribbean travel because the cost of a ticket to a nearby island sometimes is almost the same or more than going to a place such as the United States.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has invited CARICOM and Commonwealth Observers to Trinidad and Tobago for the Aug. 10 General Election.

A release from the Office of the Prime Minister said Dr. Rowley wrote to CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin La Rocque and Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland QC, inviting them to send election observation missions to observe the processes and operations in the upcoming parliamentary election, which will be held on Aug. 10.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had written to the prime minister, requesting that international observer teams be invited to observe the poll next month.

She had asked for observers from the United Nations, CARICOM, Commonwealth and The Carter Center to be invited to T&T, noting that international elections observation was an “important mechanism for ensuring election integrity.”

Five other political parties have supported Persad-Bissessar’s call for observers.

The prime minister responded by saying that he had no problem with having international observers in T&T for the election.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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