Caribbean RoundUp

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., Sept. 14, 2020.
REUTERS / Mike Segar, File

Antigua

LIAT, the Antigua and Barbuda-based regional airline returned to the skies recently.

The first schedule flight left the VC Bird International Airport in Coolidge, Antigua on Nov. 1 and arrived at the Melville Hall Airport in Marigot, Dominica.

It was also announced that on Nov. 8, 2020, the airline was expected to begin regular flights to a limited number of destinations and is initially expected to operate five days a week.

According to reports, the court-appointed Administrator, Clevland Seaforth disclosed that a permit has been granted to the airline to fly to the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Facing increased debt and the economic impact from the pandemic, LIAT in July received a stay from liquidation when the government of Antigua and Barbuda secured an order for his administration.

The airline owed creditors in excess of US$37 million.

Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica, the major shareholders of the airline, have written to the administrator agreeing to write off their debts estimated to about $25.9 million.

Barbados

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is proposing that Barbados should receive an additional US$66 million under the island’s Extended Fund Facility to help address the emerging fiscal deficit resulting from COVID-19 pandemic.

This was revealed in a statement from IMF representative in Barbados, Bert van Selm, at the end of the Washington based institution’s fourth review of Barbados’ Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) program supported by the Extended Fund Facility.

In the statement, van Selm said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on Barbados’ economy, with a double-digit decline in economic activity projected for 2020. Tourism came to a virtual standstill between March and June 2020: airlift declined precipitously, most hotels closed, and occupancy plummeted at facilities that remained open. In early June, the island cautiously started reopening the economy for international tourists, after the authorities effectively halted local transmission of the disease. However, tourism arrivals remain at a fraction of normal levels.”

Van Selm said the IMF staff supports the easing of the fiscal stance and, subject to approval by the IMF executive board, proposes an augmentation of the Extended Facility in the amount of US$66 million to help finance the emerging fiscal deficit.

Guyana

United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has praised leaders within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for their leadership in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as they confront shocks to their economies, the tourism sector, trade and remittances.

The secretary general was addressing a virtual meeting of the regional body recently.

The UN chief said the pandemic’s socio-economic impacts have been worse that the virus itself for some developing countries, including the Caribbean.

He highlighted his push for a relief package equivalent to at least 10 percent of the global economy, as well as an appeal for debt relief.

The secretary general emphasized his full support of the Caribbean and vision on becoming the first fully climate resilient region in the world.

Grenada

Grenada is bracing for an impact on the month-long lockdown in the United Kingdom which will have a negative effect on the island’s tourism industry.

Grenada went into lockdown in late March as part of measures aimed at controlling and containing the spread of the coronavirus virus after confirming its first case of the virus, that killed one million people and affected 47.4 million globally since the first case was detected in China last December.

Minister of Tourism, Clarice Modeste-Curwen said the four-week British lockdown will have a negative impact on the island’s tourism industry.

She said during the discussions with the airlines offering the UK service, it was disclosed that the load factor for both airlines was acceptable for the service to continue.

Since resuming the international commercial passengers’ flights, the minister of tourism said more than 2,000 passengers had arrived at the Maurice Bishop International Airport.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines will assume the chairmanship of the United Nations Security Council last week.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the one-month stint is the island’s first and only presidency during the country’s term on the US Security Council, and forms part of the island’s responsibility as a non-permanent member.

The ministry said: “St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ presidency of the United Nations Security Council, during the month of November, aims to address contemporary challenges, climate change and its security consequences and the nexus between development and peace and security.”

It said key events for the month will include a virtual news briefing to be conducted by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

Gonsalves will one day later, chair the UN Security Council Virtual Open Debate under the agenda theme “Peacebuilding and Sustainable Peace Contemporary Drivers of Conflict and Insecurity.”

St. Kitts

The St. Kitts-Nevis government says it is opting out of the “CARICOM Travel Bubble,” citing a number of health concerns to its citizens and residents as the region continues to grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said participating in the “CARICOM Bubble” with countries of higher risk assessment and less stringent protocols would expose citizens and residents with elevated health risks.

He said after discussing the matter at length with Cabinet and the National COVID-19 Task Force and arrived at a consensus he has advised the CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin La Rocque, that St. Kitts and Nevis has, in the national interest, albeit for health reasons withdrawn from the “bubble” effective immediately and has advised the chief medical officer to advise The Caribbean Public Health Authority (CARPHA) of the government’s decision.

Dr. Harris said as a result all travelers from CARICOM countries now have to undergo the 14-day mandatory quarantine period and present a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival in St Kitts.

He said the government would continue to monitor the regional situation and examine ways in which it can best facilitate CARICOM nationals in the future.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago nationals living abroad, including the United States who want to come to Trinidad and Tobago for the Christmas will require to produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before entry.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley during a news conference on Saturday at the Diplomatic Center, Port of Spain.

He said every effort is being made to ensure people who want to return home for the Christmas are able to do so.

But he said not all applications for exemption can be granted, as the repatriation process must be carefully managed to avoid an explosion in COVID-19 cases.

The new protocols, which will take effect from Nov. 15, will require returning nationals to produce a COVID-19 negative PCR test 72 hours before entry and upon arrival, the individual will be tested again and asked to quarantine at a state facility or a state-supervised facility.

They will be released if they produce a second negative test result after seven days.

Minister of National Security, Stuart Young said state-supervised quarantine option requires returning nationals to cover the cost of their stay.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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