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Waterloo explains closure of Turks and Caicos Collection hotels; no reopening date revealed

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Beach House Turks & Caicos, photo by Turks and Caicos Reservations

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – August 10, 2020 – Given the unprecedented situation the world currently faces amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many hotels internationally and domestically have experienced a severe decrease in occupancy as COVID-19 has caused a major disruption for countless travelers.

The virus has also forced numerous countries, including the Turks and Caicos Islands, to implement drastic measures to contain the spread of the virus. As a result of the pandemic, the Turks and Caicos Government implemented its travel authorization policy requiring proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test at least 5 days prior to arrival as well as travel insurance.

This has adversely impacted travel and transient accommodation. Either through cancelations of flight, inability to access testing within the specified time frame, prohibitive costing of a travel package and with respect to Canadian travelers, the unwillingness to quarantine for 14 days post return to their country, demand is severely down.

A desire to have staff return to work fulltime and the need to stem financial losses led to our decision to re-open The Alexandra Resort immediately upon the reopening of the borders. Unfortunately, in the two weeks since re-opening, it became clear that the bookings necessary to maintain operations have not materialized. We therefore took the difficult decision to temporarily close once again, lay off staff and place others on reduced hours.

We know that our team members who have just returned to work are understandably disheartened having to face another period of either lay off or reduced hours. We wish to assure them that we value their commitment and hard work and have kept their individual and collective viability at the forefront of all of our decisions. We understand that when we reopen, it is only with their assistance that we will be able to provide our guests with a Turks and Caicos Experience like only the Turks and Caicos Collection can.

The events of the past few months have also forced us to take a closer look at the structure of our operations. In order to secure our long term viability in what we expect will be uncertain and challenging times, we have had to take the equally difficult decision, in making some positions redundant. In every case, we have ensured that those affected by the redundancy exercise received their full statutory entitlements.

We wish to thank everyone who has contributed to our success thus far.

Though we will not now announce a reopening date, due to the fluidity of the situation, we will continue to monitor demand over the upcoming months and we are confident that when we reopen, we will do so stronger and more resilient than ever.

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Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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