Full Statement as Presented April 7, 2020 – Good evening Turks and Caicos. It’s the Governor speaking.
A short but important announcement this evening. We’ve now been in curfew and lockdown for 11 days. From a national perspective, it’s going well and we are grateful we have strong public support for which myself, the Premier, the Cabinet and the police want to say thank you.
The weekend we are approaching – the Easter weekend – is traditionally one where business activity slows considerably. In the belief that you will meet us half way we want to use this Easter period to just slow, still further, the amount of movement and comingling on the Island.
Let me start by saying what I’m not about to announce is a confirmation of a rumor that started to circulate today that Cabinet was going to order a complete lockdown over Easter. That was false; we are not.
Over this Easter period, you may still exercise in the morning and evening, within the set times, and if you hold a specific exemption – such as needing to care for someone that needs care – you may attend to their needs. But you must have an exemption.
There will also be some businesses that will still function and they are obvious, medical facilities including doctor’s offices; hotels where guests are in residence; ferry services for emergency cases; commercial aviation, airports and security service businesses.
But beyond those we are though going to close down all other businesses for two and a half days. This will be the afternoon (starting at noon) on Maundy Thursday, 9th April, all of Good Friday (the 10th April) and Easter Sunday (12th April).
Over this Easter period essential businesses that have been operating during this period of lockdown may operate on Saturday 11th April and Easter Monday 13th April.
I’ll say that again. All businesses will be closed from after ‘noon’ on Thursday. They will stay closed on Friday. They will open on Saturday, close on Sunday, open on Monday.
We do this for two reasons. We have eight confirmed cases on the Islands and we now have evidence of on-island transmission. In other words, a small number of these individuals had no travel history and so they have been exposed on the Island.
In a measured way we want to yet further put distance between our population at the places our population most come into contact with strangers, or indeed friends. At present the most likely places this happens are the businesses that are open.
The second reason is that, while many have been able to have considerable time at home with family, this has not been true for our front line services.
Police and immigration officers have not only been working extremely long hours securing the lockdown and curfew, but have had the extra challenge of dealing with the interception of sloops and subsequent repatriations. Others have had long hours in other essential services where we have reduced staffing to the bare minimum.
Utilizing this Easter holiday period gives us the opportunity to let these people take a breath and seriously reduce the traffic on the road – people won’t have the opportunity to visit a business because there will be no business to visit – and that will allow our front line services some space to refresh. There will of course be no let-up in policing, just matters will be more manageable for those on duty and our Marine Branch will remain – as it always is – primed and deployed.
These decisions were made by the National Emergency Operations Centre, chaired by the Premier and myself and agreed in a cabinet paper. Regulations have been drafted and will be in force covering this change. Tonight we will have graphics up on social media explaining, and I’ll publish the text of this address.
We are giving notice this evening so again you can use the next day and a half to prepare sensibly. There’s no need to panic buy, or rush. You’ve all worked out for yourselves that the stores are well stocked and will continue to be so. Stay calm as they say, and carry on.
Now a look ahead. Given that almost every other country in the world has extended its lockdown period it’s not unreasonable for many to ask what the Cabinet’s view will be on this, when ours expires in the middle of next week.
The answer is that the decision has not been taken, the more data we have in making this decision the better. It will though be taken this week or weekend by Cabinet, and communicated early to you, so again if preparations are needed they can be done in a sensible measured way.
The Cabinet will be strongly guided by Ministry of Health on this and we have asked for a very detailed paper laying out the case, for and against, systematically.
All in all, though I do want to say that myself, the Premier, the Commissioner of Police and Minister of Health judge overall compliance has been extraordinarily good. We are up at around 90% or above and that does give us the very best chance of defeating this. TCI you are at the moment the envy of many others in the region for the way we are all holding together on this.
Away from this I do want to call out, as at times I have done in the past, a malicious use of fake news. Imagery circulated today suggested a huge Sloop was in Provo. It wasn’t. For those that risk their lives out on the sea stopping this happening, and for the last eight months they have an extraordinary high success rate, can you imagine how disheartening this is?
But beyond just undermining people, who I see as amongst our present national heroes, a few weeks ago this type of fake news would have been wrong – in a moral sense – because it was produced by a person that wanted to cause fear and generate hate. The difference today, under new law, is that this is now a criminal offence. As a result, a police investigation has started; I look forward to a future prosecution.
Perhaps a final note to say that the ‘Security Assistance Team’, the Premier and myself greeted yesterday, are now settled in quarantine. Myself and the team leader, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Jones, had a three-way teleconference with his commanding General today in the UK.
The team are very clear on their initial task which is to properly understand the health capacity in all its forms we have in TCI so we can support and help build greater capacity against COVID19 while, at the same time, understanding how UK military capability – which comes in different forms –can support our anti-illegal immigration operations.
The two of course link together in terms of the fight against COVID19. They have a further set of sub-tasks such as hurricane preparedness and support to building our regiment but the two main tasks will dominate.
That’s it for now TCI. Day 11 over, day 12 soon to begin. I’ve barely left the house for the last few days – and there’s a lot I miss – not least the beaches and the sea – I guess they will only be all the better when I can enjoy them again – which of course I will.
Provided by the Governor’s Office, Turks and Caicos Islands
RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.
Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.
The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.
Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe. In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm. I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Ten Selected for the TCREA Real Estate Mentorship Program
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – Since the official announcement of the Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association’s High School Mentorship Program, ten mentees have been selected for the inaugural group and will begin their journey on the road to embracing the fundamentals of the real estate field this month.
TCREA Ambassador and Director of the mentorship program, Mr. Trevor Musgrove, shared how pleased the committee was to have received thirty applications for the program, “We extended the opportunity to high schoolers and young college students aged 13-17. Initially, the invitation for applications was shared only with Providenciales students because of the logistical challenge to accommodate in-person sessions with sister island students, as all our committee members are based in Providenciales.
Luckily, once the Ministry of Education came on board and endorsed the program, Honourable Rachel Taylor immediately encouraged us to extend the mentorship opportunity to all islands, pledging her Ministry’s commitment to handling the necessary authorizations and cost to ensure successful applicants outside of Provo would be able travel here as needed,” said Musgrove.
The successful applicants and their respective schools are as follows:
· Clement Howell High – Dashawn Brooks, Alyssa Callum
· Raymond Gardiner High – Olique Stubbs, Lewis Walkin, Jr.
· Precious Treasures – Aniyah Bovie
· Maranatha Academy – Shamya Missick
· British West Indies Collegiate – Pavla Lalakova, Andino Parker
· Louise Garland Thomas High – Abnise Noel, Antoine Gedeon
Musgrove said they were pleased to have had applicants from North Caicos and were hopeful to have students from Grand Turk and South Caicos among the group, however no applications were received from those islands.
On Tuesday, May 10th the final group came together for a virtual meet-up and briefing, where they were formally introduced to the program’s mentors and were given an overview of what to expect in the coming months.
The teens will receive a monthly educational module over the next six months and will be provided 1-2 weeks to internalize the information. They will then enjoy a monthly in-person session with their mentors where they will put their real estate acumen to the test in interactive sessions, field trips, and more.
Program mentor Manfred Smith of Sotheby’s Turks & Caicos shared his elation for the program’s momentum thus far, “We are excited about providing this opportunity to introduce high school students to the real estate industry. From the initial feedback, the students are also very keen to learn, which makes it rewarding for all as we contribute to the development of tomorrow’s professionals.”
Smith says the program also demonstrates TCREA’s continued commitment as good corporate citizens in the rapidly growing country. The committee hopes that the mentees would grasp all that they can as they continue their educational pursuits.
The program’s Facebook page, @tcreamentors, is live and will document the group’s journey as they move through the program’s phases. Along with Musgrove and Smith, the community can get to know more about the other committee members: Blair MacPherson of REMAX; Nina Siegenthaler of Sotheby’s; Vernica Delancy and Dedra Gray of Keller Williams; and Sean O’neill, of The Agency through the social media page as well.
At the end of the program, the students will sit a mock real estate license exam and will enjoy a retreat for a fun and memorable close-out.
It is TCREA’s hope that this initiative will garner an interest and appreciation for the industry among high-schoolers and will act as springboard to the development of the next generation of local real estate professionals in these islands.
DECR Launches Important Tropical Plant Areas & Species in TCI Project
#TurksandCaicos, May 19, 2022 – The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) along with visiting scientists from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) will launch the DarwinPlus 114 Project Tropical Important Plant Areas and Important Plant Species in TCI. The project was originally to begin in May 2020, but with Covid-19-related travel restrictions, along with restructuring at DECR and RBG Kew, two years of deferments were necessary. The project has begun and will be officially launched this week in a workshop on Thursday 12 May 2022 beginning at 9:00 AM in the National Environmental Centre.
In reference to the project, DECR Director Lormeka Williams stated, “With the recent completion of the National Physical Development Plan, the signing of the Climate Change Charter, and the review of the National Parks Ordinance, we are poised and ready to utilise new information on land use and impacts to our Protected Areas and green spaces. We are newly energised to commit to the discovery and description of our most sensitive and significant plant diversity hotspots. We’re inspired by our colleagues in the British Virgin Islands having completed the pilot of this project. We are also ready and excited to find out what these plants are that evade identification and may prove to be something unknown to science.”
The project is focused on identifying Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in Turks and Caicos Islands. TIPAs are a network of the key sites for wild plants and threatened habitats identified using scientifically robust data. They are not legal designations, but a means to identify the most important sites for wild plant diversity and to inform the protection and management of sites. Identifying TIPAs will help prevent the global loss of plant diversity, whilst safeguarding the role of plants as primary producers and providers of ecosystem infrastructure, products, and services.
TIPAs also provides a framework for Governments to implement target 5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Global Strategy for Plant Conservation – to ensure the protection of at least 75% of the most important areas for plant diversity of each ecological region by 2020 with effective management in place for conserving plants and their genetic diversity. TIPAs also contribute to implementing the CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Target 12 – by 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained. Criteria for identification of Tropical Important Plant Areas were developed, and the first nationwide project was completed by RBG Kew and the Virgin Islands National Parks Trust in the British Virgin Islands in 2019. Assistant Director of Research and Development B Naqqi Manco participated in the April 2019 BVI TIPAs Workshop, and discussed the potential to replicate the project with long-established partners at RBG Kew in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Following the TCI TIPAs Launch Workshop, the DECR and RBG Kew team will trial the criteria over several sites of high plant diversity in Providenciales, North Caicos, and Middle Caicos. Over the next three years, the teams will cover other islands as well. Of particular importance will be the Turks and Caicos Islands eight known endemic plant species – those found nowhere else on earth. A secondary component of the project focuses on investigating some unique populations of rare plants in TCI, which may constitute new varieties or even species. RBG Kew will use DNA analysis to explore the relationship of these species to their closest relatives. Importantly, the rare and endemic species will be targeted for IUCN Red Data Listing as well, to assess their wild population status and trends.
Photo: This beautiful Encyclia orchid is one of the unique groups of plants that will be studied by the project.
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