Caribbean RoundUp

Groundcrew prepare a Liat airlines ATR 42-600 plane on the tarmac at Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados, March 18, 2019.
REUTERS / Phil Noble, file

Antigua

Regional heads of government have been asked to help cover the cost of severance entitlements of more than EC$70 million of former employees of regional airline LIAT.

In a letter dated Jan. 22, the court-appointed administrator, Clevland Seaforth, said that as April 2020, the total unpaid entitlements to workers across the region amounted to EC$119,006,962. Of this amount, EC$79,011,337 is in respect of the employee’s legal severance entitlements.

He said based on preliminary estimates, it is highly unlikely that any significant portion of the workers’ severance entitlements will likely result from the estate of LIAT (1974) Ltd., upon its eventual liquidation.

The administrator also pointed out that “the employees were of the firm view that by virtue of the company being primarily owned by the governments of the region, it was most unlikely that hardship would come to them, because there was an expectation that the company would never be abandoned by the respective governments.”

He further stated, that based on discussions with the various unions in each of the territories, it is clearly evident that both current and former workers are experiencing severe financial hardship and a high level of disappointment, in what is perceived as a lack of support from the respective governments.

Seaforth also pointed out that the government of Antigua and Barbuda believes it has a moral obligation to the former workers, but the onus is far too great for a single government.

He said the Antiguan government is prepared to offer the employees a 50 percent of their severance, through a combination of cash, land, or government bonds.

 

Barbados

The Barbados government is providing financial assistance to small businesses that were closed during two-week lockdown.

This was revealed by Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds.

He said shops would receive Bds$$1,500 (US$750) from Feb. 3-17 period, while vendors would receive Bds$500 (US $250), and water sports operators, barbers, beauty salons, nail technicians and taxi operators would also receive a cash injection.

However, he stressed that there would be a verification process to ensure only businesses that qualify can access the funds.

Symmonds said shopkeepers were identified based on the 1,444 liquor licenses of retail nature that were issued.

Additionally, he said, Cabinet had agreed that mini marts in rural districts, where there was no ease of access to supermarkets would be allowed to open Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 3 pm.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley, in announcing the lockdown, had said village shops and mini marts would have to be closed during the period, however, this was changed after further consideration.

 

Caribbean

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a new agreement with airlines to suspend travel to the Caribbean and Mexico due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BBC reported.

Canada’s main airlines, including Air Canada and WestJet “will end service immediately and organize to return travel for those currently abroad,” the story said.

The Canadian government will also mandate new testing and three-day quarantine periods upon arrival in Canada.

The decision was made amid reports of many Canadians traveling internationally this winter.

“The new variants of COVID-19 pose a real challenge to Canada,” the BBC quoted Trudeau as saying.

He announced that Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat have all agreed to suspend their flights to so-called “sun destinations” until April 30.

All visitors to Canada must take a mandatory COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test on arrival at the airport- in addition to the pre-boarding test that is already required- and must stay at Canadian government approved hotels at their own cost for up to three days while awaiting results.

The prime minister said it would cost travelers more than Can$2,000 (US1,560) for the hotel stay and those who test negative can complete the remainder of their two-week quarantine period at home, the report said.

 

Guyana

Bars closed in Guyana since March 2020 will now be allowed to open their doors, although at limited capacity, under the updated government COVID-19 measures announced last week.

However, the measures maintain the daily curfew from 10.30 am to 4 am and restrictions on social activities until at least Feb. 28.

The new guidelines allow bars and restaurants to open from 4 am to 9.30 pm, but restricts indoor dining to 40 percent of capacity of the building with tables places six feet apart and no more than four persons allowed at one table.

The guidelines restrict social gatherings and recreational activities, including private parties, receptions, wakes and vigils.

Gyms are allowed to open at 50 percent capacity while sporting events are subject to approval from the Ministry of Health and must comply with the measures.

The latest statistics provided by the Ministry of Health show that up to Jan. 31, Guyana had recorded 7,641 cases, 60 of those being recorded with the last 24 hours of the data being gathered.

The country has 874 active cases.

 

Jamaica

Jamaica’s Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang, is blaming gang warfare for the surge in murders across the country since the start of the year.

Chang revealed that more than 100 persons had been killed across the island so far up to the first week in February.

He said efforts by the police to dismantle gangs have been working, despite it not being reflected in the murder statistics so far this year.

The minister cited another feature of gang violence that has been contributing to the nation’s high murder rate was young gang members being in what he described as “a state of depression.”

Chang noted that one of the problems “we have is that most of the big gang leaders are the big killers (the ones who give the chilling orders) but they actually have been apprehended or some have removed from the scene.”

He said as a result, “there is no order or discipline” in the gangs, which has virtually spilled over into the society, causing violent crimes.

According to Chang, who is also the deputy prime minister, the government has deployed more police in crime-plagued areas and invested heavily in more resources to aid the law enforcers in their quest to dismantle the gangs.

 

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government has announced another state of emergency (SoE) that includes a 10-hour nightly curfew and a reduction in the hours that businesses are allowed to operate as the country grapples with another wave of COVID-19 cases.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, in announcing the move in address to the nation last week said the measure would be in effect for a week in the first instance.

He said the country will go back to an SoE effective Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, for an initial period of seven days, which will allow the government to further restrict movement with a curfew from 7 pm to 5 am.

Chastanet said the COVID-19 Act is being amended to reduce operation hours for business operators to coincide with the curfew adding that essential services will be allowed to operate and some commercial activity will be permitted during the SoE.

His announcements came on the same day St. Lucia recorded 68 new COVID-19 cases. The previous day, the Ministry of Health and Wellness confirmed the island’s 16th COVID-19 death — a 61-year-old man with multiple underlying illness.

The total number of cases diagnosed in St. Lucia as of last week since the start of the pandemic was 1,479, including 757 active cases.

 

Trinidad

Effective immediately, people seeking to leave Trinidad and Tobago on a Caribbean Airlines flight must adhere to government’s new online exemption process.

In a statement the airline said people must apply for exemptions at the website: services.mins.gov.tt/travel exemption.

It said the approvals are applied against passports submitted on the exemption request form forms.

Caribbean Airlines is also encouraging passengers to verify the entry requirements and other important travel information for their intended destination using the Caribbean Airlines Sherpa Tool.

Last month, Minister of National Security,  Stuart Young announced the new online exemption process.

He said with the introduction of the new system, people planning to return to, or leave Trinidad and Tobago, will now have to do so via the website, where they will be asked to fill out a form similar to that used when applying for a visa

— Compiled by Azad Ali

 

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