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Curbside service; Bars, Restaurants, Lounges & More get New Raft of Rules

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#TurksandCaicos, February 9, 2021 – Service with a smile, covered by a mask and no longer in the comfort of your favorite hang-out, all of these entities are forced to not only close up by 5 p.m. today but to serve you outside or ‘curbside’ in a new raft of rules aimed at stunting the new case count of Covid-19. 

“There will be a night time curfew on all islands, from 6 p.m. in the evening to 6 a.m. in the morning; no exceptions.  All businesses to be closed at 5 p.m. and you have one hour to return to your residence.  Bars and restaurants are only allowed to serve curbside or takeaway; food or drinks,” said Edwin Astwood, the Minister of Health, during a national press conference held on Monday (February 8).

The new Public Health Regulations take effect tonight and for the next seven days Turks and Caicos has to do it differently after a record setting surge in coronavirus cases during January.

The Minister explained:  “After evaluating these measures, we will see if we have to roll back or increase the measures.”

Thousands of islanders were tuned in online and locked into radio to hear the new restrictions, which mark the third raft of rules to be rolled out in 2021.

“With the increases we are seeing we have to break the mode of transmission and one of the ways of doing that is limiting the interaction that persons may have with each other and certain measures we will putting into place to try and break that transmission,” was explained as the reasoning for the dramatically early curfew and stringent new regulations.

While some businesses have adjusted their operating hours to continue essential services to the general public; others have decided to close for the week.

Boat operators get a slight reprieve in the new restrictions. The operators are now permitted to serve larger ‘family’ groups due to a tweak of regulation which, over the previous 14-days had limited passengers to six. 

Reports are the measure of January 26-February 10 was a killer to the industry’s 100 boat operators.

The Minister had an update:  “Restrictions on no more than six persons outside the same household on all pleasure craft used for excursions.  If there are ten persons from the same household, that will be allowed but if I want to take a pleasure cruise with my friends, there would only be six of us allowed.”

Hotel and other essential workers will have an exemption; it enables them to move to and from work during the curfew hours without facing fines or tickets, explained the Health Minister.

“Hotel restaurants will continue to be open for persons in the hotel; that is for their guests.  We have the bubbles in the hotels for their workers and the guests of the hotels.”

Airport workers, including staff from the private FBOs will fall within the essential workers category and will be exempt from the curfew rules and penalties, as well.

There continues to be a ban on parties and social gatherings.

“The extension on the complete ban of public or private gatherings or social activities of any description on all islands, including beaches, that is until Tuesday 16 February 2021,” he said from the press conference held at the Office of the Premier in Providenciales.

A 20 person allowance for individuals attending church, weddings or funerals is extended; this rule applies whether the events are indoors or outdoors.

“We all know the activities we are targeting here,” said Minister Astwood who shared,  “The measures will be evaluated and adjustments will be made, either up or down.  If it slackens; will depend on you.  How well we do with(in) this next week.  If it is tightened, it also depends on you (that is) how bad we do this week.  So it is all in our hands.  These measures are in our hands.”

Turks and Caicos up to the time of the press conference had 363 active cases of the coronavirus; 52 percent of which were female and 46 percent male.

CAPTION:  Liquor served on the sidewalk in Pennsylvania due to takeaway and curbside only regulations

Caribbean News

Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne 

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.  The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.

Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.

Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Bahamas News

Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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