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Address by TCI Governor; Easter Weekend with increased restricted movement

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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.

 Good night.

Provided by the Governor’s Office, Turks and Caicos Islands

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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North Caicos man beheaded in what could be TCIs most bizarre murder case yet

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#TurksandCaicos, September 18, 2021 – Explosive talk show host Courtney Misick lost his brother last weekend in a bizarre killing which raised alarm and left residents flabbergasted at the extreme violence, which pointed to a heinous killer being at large in North Caicos.

While police have now made two arrests; giving one suspect bail and holding another on suspicion in the gruesome killing, the pastor, farmer and former election candidate publically questioned the time it took for investigators to arrive at the scene.

He said, in a string of Facebook posts, that it was some six hours before police got there.

Royal TCI Police confirmed the body of the male found in a home in Kew North Caicos; that they got the call at 5:45pm.

“The Police can confirm that the body of a man was found inside a house in Kew, North Caicos and that the body was decapitated. Although formal identification procedures have not yet taken place, the body is believed to be that of 57-year-old old Isaac Missick. The Police are in contact with the next of kin at this difficult time,” informed a Thursday press release.

Rev Misick, at 11:30pm on Saturday posted that investigators from Provo had finally arrived; another team got in on Sunday morning.

Family was disappointed with North Caicos police manpower “wasting hours guarding the crime scene” instead of “looking for Mack-B’s killer.”

Isaac “Mack-B” Missick was beheaded and worst of all, his head could not be found at the scene of the crime.  People were dumbfounded by the monstrous nature of the killing and the family was activated to mount their own hunt for the body part.

There was no success, however, for the family and friends of Mack-B.  Relatives spent the day on Wednesday in Kew battling heat, the blazing sun and swarming mosquitoes in an effort to find the head.

Mack-B’s sister, niece, cousins and eldest son travelled to North from Providenciales determined to give it a try, said Orville Selver, a cousin of the deceased who also described the scope of the search: West of the victim’s house, in the bush from Hall town, to Henfield town, near the house of Mack Bs mother, who died in May this year; on Forbes road and near all the old wells.

The search party which began at 9am fanned out in two groups;” some went on the north side and others went the south side into the deep woods,” he said.

Meanwhile police were questioning two suspects in the case, now ruled a murder.  It is the TCI’s sixth homicide for 2021.

“Today, the Police made an application to the court to seek an extension to the time Officers can keep the arrested man in custody. The court case was adjourned until September 23rd, 2021, during which time the man will be held in police custody. The man arrested on Suspicion of Murder on Sunday, September 12th, 2021, has been released on police bail pending further investigation.”

It will most likely go down as the most gruesome killing in Turks and Caicos history; the beheading of this beloved North Caicos construction worker on Friday or Saturday at his home in Kew.

Our interview of his brother, Rev Missick, unearthed that Mack-B said he had to go home, he did so but never returned to work on Friday September 10.  Upon being missed by some relatives, his cousin set out to check on him and the discovery was gut-wrenching.

Said to be a gory scene as the man, lay on the ground with no head.  While relatives believed the head was at the scene, they later learned that it was missing.

From Police: “This is a very distressing and complex murder that will take time to investigate. However, many specialist Officers are involved in this case, and they are doing everything possible to fully understand the events leading up to this horrific attack. North Caicos is a very close community, and the Police seek their assistance in providing vital information to progress the investigation.”

Isaac Missick, leaves behind a wife and two sons.

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PNP Government not prepared for this work!

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#TurksandCaicos, September 16, 2021 – This is exactly what the PDM was warning the new PNP Administration about, hoping that this did not occur; COVID-19 being spread in our schools amongst our babies. My fears are from the positions of a Parent, a citizen, a Member of Parliament, a former Minister of Health, and a Scientist.

In my press release from a week ago I stated “And we know how critical it is to get our children back to school. It is especially critical for their mental health and their development. In achieving this, the Government must ensure that schools can open with confidence, both in capacity and in the broader public health indicators that exist. Safety of our children and our families should be driving the decisions of the Government every step of the way.”

I then went on to say “Our first job must be to care for our children, and provide a safe learning environment. However, the PNP Administration’s readiness for the reopening of Schools this week was frightening to observe. All occurrences showed that this PNP Administration was not adequately prepared, and did not provide the schools, through the Department of Education, the much-needed budgetary support in human resources, adequate safety materials, supplies and early provision of book-list. In addition, they did not provide the schools with any enhanced and improved health and safety guidelines.  They should not put your child and your family at risk.”

And now our worse fears are coming through. This new Government should immediately adjust protocols, execute their contingency plans, if any, and take all mitigating actions to prevent further spread. Immediate action is needed.

I had also stated that; “The Government had every opportunity to be more than ready to mitigate against all the known challenges that the Pandemic presents. It would have been in everyone’s best interest if the Government had budgeted for the hiring of more teachers, and more staff for the schools, which would enable decreasing class sizes, hence providing our students and teachers with a safer environment.”

It is not a bad thing to admit that you got something wrong, and then immediately correct the mistakes, especially when the lives at risk are our children.  It is bad when no immediate action or adjustments are made to correct the mistakes.  The Government has fell down in many areas while executing the re-opening of schools under a covid-19 environment.

The new PNP administration must take urgent actions, and after, immediately address the issues of overcrowding, class sizes, number of teachers, Cohort groups/school hours, and school health and surveillance systems.

Do not fail our children, our future, our parents, our families, and our country.

 

Hon. Edwin A. Astwood

Leader of the Opposition

 

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PDM’s Robert Been speaks out, calls Premier to forefront

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#TurksandCaicos, September 13, 2021 – The people are not getting what they voted for. The momentum initially shown by the Progressive National Party’s administration is slowing down day by day – and we are only seven months from February 2021 elections. In general, the PNP party is accused of being arrogant, inaccessible, untrustworthy, unresponsive and displaying clear favoritism to their party supporters first, and I am encouraging the PNP to stick to the promises made to the TCI people that you will not continue in this way. Elections are over.

The voters gave you another chance to prove that you can do what you promised – to serve the entire Turks and Caicos Islands, but sadly, I don’t see enough of the work going on like it was promised.

Education

While it is clear some work has gone into seeing better in our school system, Turks and Caicos Islands children are still being shared out of the spaces in their own country. We don’t want any child left behind, and definitely not our own children in their own land.

Why is this happening? With new schools, the Education Minister said these problems would be addressed, but the narrative continues. On behalf of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I am calling for there to be an investigation into why our children cannot get into schools the government builds and staffs. We need real answers, progressive action, so that we understand what is going wrong and make it right… and this includes our special needs children.

Minister, you say you want the people to feel that you really do love them, well I call on you to immediately investigate every avenue to determine why many TCI families are still at the short end of the stick when it comes to securing sound education for all of our children – special needs or not, and enact productive plans that see a final end to these concerns.

Tourism

A major policy change came into force since September 1st 2021, which impacted our tourism industry and investors – domestic and foreign. The Minister of Health is leading on this, but we also need the Minister of Tourism to step out and thoroughly review all aspects of this decision to thoroughly address the valid concerns being expressed by our citizens. Ego should have no room in managing our economy in a way that is best for our economy.

There is integrity in reconsidering the negative effects of a decision, and moving forward with a better plan. Only God is perfect. Let us look around the world and learn from their mistakes, as well as glean from their wise decisions. There are other ways to achieve a desired goal – Minister of Health and Minister of Tourism, I appeal to you, before things get worse, work together and please explore this in other ways as well.

As a stakeholder, and someone whom you both are familiar with, I am happy to make myself available to put forth my ideas if it means the better of our nation. Finally about tourism, it has been since March 2020 that Grand Turk and Salt Cay have lost their tourism slice.

Plans to revive this industry always seem to get pushed back with no updates since June 2021. Millions of dollars sit in the joint infrastructure fund and even though they had a meeting with Carnival Cruise Line in June, we have not heard anything about projects, incentives, the new dock or the new cruise line company. Meanwhile Grand Turk people are leaving the island and businesses have to shut down, which makes job opportunities even harder to find there.

Providenciales is our pearl, but other islands exist in our Beautiful By Nature island chain. I am challenging you to speak to us about the future of our industry and any changes you are planning for our brand. What are you doing to soften the blow of this pandemic so it does not sink our tourism ship and what actual plans are in place to strengthen our tourism product?

Health

This is my final point. We cannot find spaces for our severely ill people at facilities in nearby countries due to the effect of surges of Covid-19 cases and the ongoing pandemic. We feel it for our regional health partners and are grateful for the open doors the NHIB was able to find.

However, if we are flown to the DR or Colombia, where we can find medical care and we die of the coronavirus – then the remains of our loved ones are cremated. This is a circumstance we cannot change and a heart-wrenching pill to swallow. I heard the Minister of Health say that it is out of his hands. And while that might be case, where is the plan to get Turks and Caicos out of this position? Let’s put our heads together to find a way around this.

No one wants the return of dear loved ones in a jar. We need a hospital which can cater to trauma emergencies. We need a hospital with a fully-functioning ICU. If it takes borrowing, if it takes strategy in finally developing medical tourism – let’s get the plan for it. Let’s get the public informed of that plan and with an agreed approach, let us finally fix healthcare in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Conclusion To the Hon Premier, your experience has earned you this prestigious title.

Your party’s theme was “We come for this wo’k”, and “this work” requires you to be occupied at the helm. Return to the forefront so your people do not feel abandoned in the midst of important health care concerns, the Covid-19 surge, cost of doing business, inflation and this recent mandate which lacked proper consultation by all levels of businesses in tourism and finance.

Your past experience, which you boasted has assisted in our country’s economic development and its thriving, is actively needed now. You have said many times, and I was happy to hear, that this is not about party politics, but about all of us as a people.

My call to you is the same. Turks and Caicos is a topclass destination and we demand top-class delivery on the Contract you wrote.

Just a reminder that the three (3) month stimulus plan is incomplete. The impact of the recent entry requirement is costing so many in hard-earned income – it’s time to deliver in full on this promise.

You wanted the work, you got the work, now do the work – for all of us!

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