#TurksandCaicos – March 14, 2020 — Ships coming into the Turks and Caicos for business or pleasure must now check in at designated centers in Grand Turk and Providenciales first; no ships will be allowed to dock with passengers or cargo in the sister islands according to the Collector of Customs.
“As a result of the global concern in relation to the novel Coronavirus, (COVID-19) Pandemic, the Collector of Customs of the Turks and Caicos Islands Customs Department, hereby advises that with immediate effect, customs approved examination stations on the Islands of South Caicos and North Caicos, for the purposes of the loading and unloading of goods and the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers are suspended until further notice.”
It is not stated who will police the new procedure.
Magnetic Media is informed that local and international vessels must initially stop into the dock in Grand Turk or one of designated examination centers in Providenciales, including South Dock before proceeding to the other islands; specifically named are North Caicos and South Caicos.
The Customs notice did not name the new examination centers, nor did it mention how islanders would be able to ascertain if a boat has already passed through the new checkpoint.
The Turks and Caicos Minister of Health, Edwin Astwood, in January confirmed that human capacity is stretched and informed that a Cabinet approved injection of $400,000 is partly allotted to new staff recruitment.
The new measure takes immediate effect, explained the Customs Department and the notice was issued overnight; another example of the fluidity of national rules and regulations in relation to the rampant global spread of the pandemic, coronavirus.
It is explained that, “No goods will be loaded and offloaded and no passenger allowed embarking and disembarking at Sandy Point, North Caicos, or Cockburn Harbour, South Caicos.”
Precise logistics were missing in the public notice issued last night, therefore it is unclear how this will affect the sailing and shipping industries which have had little time to prepare for this significant change.