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Letter to Editor: Beaches Resort Impasse, concerning

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Dear Editor,

November 9, 2020 – Please allow me an opportunity to air my very serious concerns regarding this ongoing impasse with Beaches, and the latest developments which are more discouraging than encouraging.

After the latest volley of statements between the TCIG and Beaches Resorts, I must insist that the playing of games with the lives of the people must stop!

Only a few short days ago we heard all these great things about mediation and how it holds hope for a resolution, but barely had the print dried that mediation was out the window like everything else. Now we are left in a state of chaos with no idea about what is going to happen as we race toward the peak periods; Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond.

First the TCIG comes and says Beaches called off the mediation, followed almost immediately by the resort denying this and pointing toward a letter which the TCIG had sent to the resort on the cusp of the mediation. The clear implication is that whatever was contained in that letter derailed the talks that were to come. Beaches for its part has demanded that the letter be published. Well if that is how we get to the bottom of this then I also wish to see the contents of that letter.

That is important for several reasons the most urgent being that if there was something in that letter that impacted the mediation then we have to wonder why it is that the Premier and the TCIG would do such a thing, and what is the reason behind refusing to resolve this matter while people suffer.

On the other hand, if the letter does not contain anything that could be seen as disruptive, then we have questions to ask of Beaches.

But at this point the only party that has called for full disclosure is Beaches, and I shudder to think that the TCIG is intentionally prolonging this debacle while people all over the TCI suffer. If this is a political gimmick as is being suggested, then shame on the TCIG for so playing with the lives of those who elected it to serve.

The people of the TCI can no longer sit idly by while we hear empty talk and promises.

One has to ask the question, what does it profit Beaches to keep its doors closed at a time when it needs to open resorts and it probably needs all the business it can get? It simply does not compute. If the liability is $26 million as is being claimed, then I cannot see a multi-billion dollar company allowing such a sum to prevent it from opening – unless it’s not about the money.

Let’s look at this practically; the TCIG is accusing it key investor of not meeting all its tax liabilities, however Beaches has stood its ground insisting that not only has it paid its taxes according to its long standing agreement with the government, but that it is actually owed millions in overpaid taxes. Then there is the letter sent by the sitting Finance Minister Washington Misick confirming the arrangement. So it is not hard to see why Beaches has taken the stand it has, and I can understand why the resort is standing its ground because essentially it is being accused by a host government of not meeting tax liabilities. That is a damning thing to say has far reaching implications, and any company that is within its rights will defend itself from such an accusation whether it is $26 million or $26 dollars. Furthermore Beaches has been very public in its defense so this cannot be about simply evading payment as the TCIG has suggested.

So what is the truth?

We are no longer comforted by the platitudes we hear from the TCIG regarding its willingness to ‘engage in discussions (facilitated or otherwise) in good faith, with a view to ultimately arriving at a workable resolution for both parties.” We need more than words we need action, we need to see real effort, we are tired of the talk, talk and more talk.

Well you had the opportunity to do that on November 18th in the mediation, and if it is that the TCIG has done something – in this case the finger is being pointed at the contents of a letter sent to Beaches on October 29th – that has derailed that process then the people deserve to know why. So let the citizens be the judge indeed, publish the letter and let Beaches publish its response.

Yours respectfully,
Angus Jones

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.

Health

COVID Vaccine mandate expires Dec 31, TCIG stalled on ending it sooner

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos does not seem primed to do away with its Covid-19 vaccine mandate for entry to the islands just yet, Magnetic Media learned from Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and Human Services.

Robinson maintained that “As usual all remaining regulations are continuously under review. Current regulations expire December 31st.”

Despite them being under constant review, the Minister gave no indication that the Turks and Caicos Islands Government would accelerate any change to the rule.

The question though, is why? The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has continuously stated that it is following the science and the UKs lead when it comes to the country’s Covid-19 response.  The UK dropped its vaccine mandate for entry back in March as the country was coming off of the Omicron wave and dozens of other countries have done so since.

In terms of the science, not only does vaccination not stop the virus from spreading to vulnerable islanders, the earliest vaccines and boosters have notoriously little efficacy against the circulating variants.

In addition, there is little evidence to suggest that allowing unvaccinated individuals within borders has a negative effect on that country’s Covid case count.

Not only are the islands missing out on a major chunk of their source markets who are unvaccinated, homeowners who are unvaccinated have not been able to return to or see their property investments since the mandate was adopted in September 2021.

Deputy Premier E Jay Sanders had explained that, “thanks to the country’s over performing tourism sector when the decision is made to pull back that requirement it will be done not out of pressure but with the TCI people in mind.”

It’s unclear what the reasoning behind keeping the mandate is when it now has been proven to provide so little protection.

Additionally, it was explained that multiple attempts by the Ministry of Health to secure avenues for unvaccinated homeowners in the Turks and Caicos to visit their properties have been rebuffed at the Cabinet level.

Robinson was addressing the continued COVID-19 vaccine requirement for travel to the TCI which blocks unvaccinated tourists and homeowners from entering the island.

“On several occasions, I have presented possible pathways for homeowners to be able to visit their properties outside of a full repeal of the vaccine entry mandate and each time there was not full support for it moving forward in Cabinet,” he said.

Magnetic Media has spoken to irate and broken-hearted  homeowners who have not been able to visit their properties in a year despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and other fees to have a home on the islands.

The Health Ministry however says his team is now preparing a cabinet paper to weigh the pros and cons of continuing with the vaccine mandate.  Robinson said that paper has not made the agenda as yet, taking a back seat to more pressing issues including the passing of Hurricane Fiona.

The paper should reach cabinet “soon” but this is not a guarantee that the measure will be dropped. Robinson also defended the TCIG’s current policy.

“Based on the numbers I have received from the (tourism) industry to date, being one of the few only remaining destinations with a vaccine mandate doesn’t seem to be hurting our projected occupancy rates for the months of December, January, and February across all segments of the Industry.”

The issue of why the vaccine mandate persists are heightened due to major announcements in recent days including, Joe Biden, US president declaring that the Coronavirus Pandemic “is over”; Canada moving to end its vaccine entry requirement on September 30 and The Bahamas calling off mandatory testing as of September 22 and rescinding the mask rule (for most public places) on October 1.

The mandatory vaccine measure came into effect in September 2021 prior to the widespread emergence of Omicron and lowered vaccine efficacy.  It is also a mandatory requirement for guest workers in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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News

Turks and Caicos Islands Rebounding Quickly from Hurricane Fiona

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#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos Islands is working around the clock to quickly rebound from the effects of Hurricane Fiona, which hit the islands as a Category 3 storm on Tuesday, September 20th 2022.  By 11:50PM EDT of the same day, the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) advised that hurricane warning for the Turks and Caicos Islands was discontinued and stated that the National All-Clear was given by the Department of Meteorology.

Preliminary assessments indicate that significant damage across the country was minimal.  Major airport updates are as follows:

  • The Providenciales International Airport re-opened on Wednesday, September 21st 2022 for all flight operations.
  • The South Caicos Airport re-opened on Thursday, September 22nd 2022 for all flight operations
  • The JAGS McCartney International Airport in Grand Turk re-opened on Thursday, September 22nd for emergency and medical flights
  • Airport operations on North Caicos and Salt Cay remain closed until further notice

Carnival Cruise Line is currently working alongside the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to conduct preliminary assessments of the port facility at the Grand Turk Cruise Center. Once completed, all necessary measures will be taken to have the port operating as soon as possible.

Yesterday, during the briefing in the NEOC, the Acting Governor, Her Excellency Anya Williams advised that Public Service in Providenciales would re-open on Thursday, September 22nd 2022 – restoring normal service delivery.

“We thank God that the Turks and Caicos Islands was able to hold strong through Hurricane Fiona – with only minor damages and without any lives lost.  The following day after receiving the National All-Clear from the NEOC, the hub to the Turks and Caicos Islands – the Providenciales International Airport – was re-opened and international flights arrived” stated Minister of Tourism, Hon. Josephine Connolly.  “But while we were extremely fortunate, we acknowledge that some of our neighbouring countries were not and our thoughts and prayers are with them”, added Hon. Connolly.

“A day after Hurricane Fiona, we were already welcoming guests back to the home of the World’s Best Beach, Providenciales”, stated Acting Director of Tourism, Mary Lightbourne. “Resorts and hotels in Provo are fully operational, so we encourage guests to keep their travel plans to visit. And in the upcoming days, we will welcome visitors to our sister islands” added Lightbourne.

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News

Turks & Caicos Coasts still ‘beautiful’ despite Hurricane Fiona

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – Despite its strength Hurricane Fiona thankfully did no major damage to the TCIs coast according to Roddy McLeod, Reef Specialist at the Department of Environment and  Coastal Resources.

He explained that the DECR has been working with DDME to assess community impacts. So far, no significant erosion has been observed around Providenciales but the seas and sea-beds were definitely disturbed.

McLeod said “Sediments remain in suspension. This will have impacted our reefs and will continue to impact our reefs until the seas settle. Sediments will likely settle on marine habitats and negatively impact them. Some sand bars have been moved so mariners should take extra care.”

Cleanup operations and restorations continue across the islands in the aftermath of Fiona, which hit the islands as a category three hurricane September 19-20.

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