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TCI Cabinet Meeting with new Covid-19 Testing & Vaccine rules and benefits

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(CORRECTED VERSION) – His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Dakin, chaired the 5th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday 24 March 2021 at the Office of the Premier on Grand Turk.

All members were present.

At this meeting Cabinet:

·        Was given an update by the Ministry of Health on:

a)     The measures being taken to address and mitigate against the threat of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) to the country, including the need to test for multiple variants, and

b)     The instillation of Oxygen Generators at the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre and the Cockburn Town Medical Centre.

·        Approved amendments to the Public and Environmental Health (Testing of COVID-19) Regulations to include:

a)     The use of Lateral Flow Devices for local surveillance of high risk TCIG departments;

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b)     Robust reporting requirements; and

c)     Confirmatory testing and testing requirements.

·        Approved the rollout of an expanded Vaccination Campaign, including among other measures, the use of more marketing mediums, drive through vaccine sites, and community outreach/events.

·        Approved a policy for a programme of mandatory Covid-19 testing of unvaccinated staff in the public sector for key high risk departments.

·        Approved an amendment to Public and Environmental Health (Arriving Passengers) Regulations to allow for upon arrival PCR testing at the airport for TCI residents who have been fully vaccinated (2 doses) in the TCI; doing away with the requirement for such persons to obtain a negative PCR test within five days prior to their arrival in the Islands with effect from 1 May 2021.

·        Approved an amendment to the Public and Environmental Health (Pandemic) Regulations to reduce the prescribed quarantine period from 14 days to 7 days for fully vaccinated persons (2 doses) who come into contact with someone with the COVID-19 disease.

·        Approved an MOU with the Turks and Caicos Islands Medical Association (TCIMA) to assist the Ministry of Health with COVID-19 local surveillance through a programme of community testing using Lateral Flow Devices.

·        Approved the overturning of a decision by the Collector of Stamp Duty by granting a waiver to a named individual on appeal in the context of a closed stimulus programme.

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·        Approved an update to the Provisional Warrant approved by the House of Assembly in December 2020 for a withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund in respect of the Recurrent Expenditure of the Islands for part of the fiscal year 2021/22. The revised Provisional Warrant will be re-submitted to the House of Assembly.

·        Approved the Invest Turks and Caicos Agency (Amendment) Bill 2021 to improve good governance within the Invest Turks and Caicos Agency Ordinance regarding legal, financial, regulatory, and compliance matters. The Bill will be submitted to the House of Assembly for debate.

·        Approved an amendment to the supporting documents to be submitted by applicants over the age of 75 years to enable them to benefit from income assistance/relief under the Citizen Relief – Covid-19 Stimulus Program. 

·        Approved the appointment of Joe Conolly as Chairman and Carla P. Blake-Thomas as Deputy Chair of the TCI National Health Insurance Board for a period of two (2) years with effect from 1 April 2021.

·        Were updated on ongoing work by Labour and Employment Services and the Department of Immigration, in particular issuance of work permits, prosecution and departure from the TCI of persons found residing in the country illegally.

·        Were updated on progress with addressing processes, structures and staffing of the Gaming Control Commission and approved the removal of the members of the Board.

·        Approved the waiver of stamp duty for the purchase of Project House by the Financial Services Commission.

·        Confirmed the round robin approval of the Supplementary Appropriation (2020/2021) Bill 2021 and noted its recent approval by the House of Assembly.

·        Were updated on ongoing works by the Ministries of Education, Infrastructure, Tourism and Health. Members were also updated on end of year (financial) work by the Civil Service and staffing across various departments.

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Bahamas News

GBPA invests $1.1 million in major road infrastructure improvements for city of Freeport

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#TheBahamas, May 20, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) will commence its $1.1 million road resurfacing project in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Sunday, May 22, 2022 beginning with the Fishing Hole Road, and West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout.

“Our City Maintenance and Management section is excited to begin this important initiative to resurface roadways within Freeport,” said Troy McIntosh, GBPA Deputy Director of Building and Development Services.  “Our city has been through many challenging storm events which did catastrophic damage to infrastructure around the island, including our roads.

“But our community is resilient, and we are seeing a positive shift in the economic tide,” continued McIntosh. “Excitement for future opportunities and anticipation of new investments is palpable through the city, so we knew this was the ideal time to start this aspect of Freeport’s much-needed makeover to which GBPA is fully committed.”

Roadworks are scheduled for main thoroughfares and a number of residential roads.  These areas include the Fishing Hole Road, West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout, West Atlantic Drive at Rayvin Mall roundabout, Beach Way Drive, Bahama Reef Boulevard, Pioneers Way, Waterfall Drive, Tarrytown Street and Grand Bahama Highway.  “We selected these locations using our Road Rating System, which allows inspectors to assess the condition and rideability of our roads on an annual basis,” added Mr. McIntosh.

The GBPA roadworks project went out to bid in December 2020.  In March 2022, the bid was awarded to Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), who specializes in heavy civil engineering projects including major highways.

“We ask motorists to drive with due care and attention while roadwork is underway,” Mr. McIntosh advised.  Flagmen and temporary traffic lights will be in position to direct traffic.  Please obey the speed limit and posted signs to help ensure the safety of all motorists and crews as they conduct work.  Delays are expected as there will be partial lane closures in some areas.”

The initial phase of road resurfacing is scheduled to be completed at the end of June 2022.  For the latest updates and information on redirected travel routes, residents can follow any of the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s social media sites or visit its website at www.gbpa.com.

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Caribbean News

RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure

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#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.”

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Education

Ten Selected for the TCREA Real Estate Mentorship Program

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#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.

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