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TCI Health Officials & Carnival will work on Post-Covid Protocols for Safe Cruising

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#TurksandCaicos, June 19, 2021 – The hope is that the crippling impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the Travel and Tourism Industry is over.  Another hope is that as cruising resumes, every worst case scenario played out in table top exercises would have given governments and industry leaders advance solutions for a safe resumption of the cruise industry.   

“We have not been operating yet in the US. Our first ship will sail from the US, officially, in July.  You may have heard of some ships operating in the Caribbean home porting out of Bahamas and St Martin, but no one is cruising as yet, out of the US,” said Marie McKenzie, Senior VP of Government Relationships at Carnival Corporation. 

Carnival Cruise Line executives on Thursday evening, in speaking at a public meeting held in Grand Turk, gave assurances that the company has done well to build-in new safety protocols, with nearly a year and a half to re-calibrate.

“Not until recently, in late May, early June did the CDC really start working with us on the required protocols for us to operate,” explained Marie McKenzie. 

“During those 17 months, we have been making changes on our ships in order to have the facilities that to not only test or identify Covid cases but also to quarantine and do contract tracing if necessary, so today our ships – and frankly, I can honestly say, the entire industry – has done a lot of work to prepare the ships to be able to operate in the event that there is a Covid case on board.  For us to operate and never believe we will never have a Covid case is really not realistic; Covid is here to stay with us everyone.”

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has also had to re-engineer what matters to visitors in terms of safety and what is necessary to keep the resident population out of Covid-19 danger.  Turks and Caicos has managed to reach impressively low levels of infections and high levels of vaccine uptake.

Statistically, the TCI has recorded 2,423 cases of the coronavirus, with nine cases currently active in Providenciales only.  The Ministry of Health informs, up to June 17, some 57 per cent of adults had received their first shot of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine.

“One of my roles today, and I will be working with the Hon Saunders (Minister of Health) – your Ministry of Health team.  We work with destinations to agree on what those protocols are for entry into your country.   So before a ship shows up here in Grand Turk, I would have worked closely with your health teams to make sure that not only are we meeting the CDC requirements to operate but also the requirements of the Turks and Caicos Islands.” 

At this stage, only operating businesses in Grand Turk are outfitted for new public health requirements in a post-Covid world; hand sanitisers, temperature testers, physical distancing markers, log books and signs requiring face coverings.  If these requirements continue in the final quarter of 2021, when the Government hopes cruising to Grand Turk will resume, then it means there is a vast body of work to be undertaken ahead of the ships’ return.

Mrs. Mckenzie explained that in her role as the liaison with the various Governments of Carnival cruise ports, she has already started having these meetings.  Carnival, she said, has confidently communicated their standards.

“Your government has already asked us to share what we are doing for protocols on board our ships so they can review that and determine when it is safe for us to return.  A ship is not just going to show up here, without addressing the realities of the world today, which is that we are living in a world with Covid.” 

Mrs. McKenzie, in response to a pointed question, informed that no protocols have been set for Grand Turk vendors who will either be stationed at the Cruise Center or those who will engage in activities with guests; decisions of that nature are going to be made in tandem with Governments. 

“It’s not a unilateral decision of Carnival; I can tell you the ones (destinations) we are visiting today we do not have a requirement that everyone that interacts with our guests must be vaccinated.  However, some destinations, their government is requiring that whoever is working in tourism or interacting with guests visiting their islands must be vaccinated.”

The reply was met with applause of many who attended the public meeting, held at the Parade Grounds.  Marie explained that Carnival Cruise Line, in all of its decisions is being guided by the science. 

“The reason we made the decision on the ships (for vaccinations), what’s really driving that is one, the CDC requirement –which I shared is the regulatory body which dictates how we operate – but the second reason we are doing that, is most destinations in the Caribbean are requiring that we have ships arrive with fully vaccinated persons.”

The last time a cruise ship was docked at the Grand Turk Cruise Center was March 6, 2020; the Carnival Magic came in but no guests were permitted to come off.

Caribbean News

Government Considers Vaccine Requirement for New Admissions to Infirmaries

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#Jamaica, December 7, 2021 – Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Government is considering a vaccine requirement for new entrants to the island’s infirmaries, once admissions resume.

“What we are looking to do is that once we start to readmit persons to the infirmaries, one of the conditions that will be laid out is that new cases coming into the infirmaries must be fully vaccinated before they are admitted,” he said in an interview with JIS News.

“We have to do that to safeguard the population in our infirmaries,” he pointed out.

He said that the Ministry is also looking at allowing visits to facilities by fully vaccinated family members during the Christmas season.

“Last year, we partnered with Digicel and we used technology as a means of allowing loved ones to communicate with their relatives inside of the infirmaries. This year, we are looking to see if we can do it on a limited, face-to-face basis, once we have agreed… where people, who would want to visit their relatives in the infirmaries… must be fully vaccinated,” he said.

“I also want to stress that they must come with a negative COVID test that is [taken within] 72 hours, and we will limit visits based on appointments,” he pointed out.

“So, you would make your appointments, you would come at the time given and we will be creating areas such as the therapeutic park [being built at the Trelawny Infirmary], as a means of allowing loved ones [to visit] during the festive season once we have worked out the protocols. That is the approach we will be taking,” the Minister outlined.

Mr. McKenzie said the Government will always be sympathetic to the plight of the poor, noting that those with loved ones inside the infirmaries can be assured that they are being cared for by a committed and dedicated team of professionals.

He said that while 70 per cent of the island’s infirmary staff has already been vaccinated, every effort is being made to get the remaining 30 per cent on board, noting that taking the vaccine has proven to be the most effective way to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

 

Contact: Garwin Davis

Release: JIS

 

 

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Caribbean News

Minister Bartlett Elected Chair of Inter-American Committee on Tourism

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#UnitedStatesofAmerica, December 7, 2021 –  Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has been elected by acclamation as the new Chairman of the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Committee on Tourism (CITUR).

Minister Bartlett came out ahead of the candidates from Paraguay and Ecuador for the chairmanship at a meeting on Tuesday (November 30).  Both countries will now serve as Vice Chair of the CITUR.

Chair of the OAS’ Inter-American Council for Integral Development, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States (US), Audrey Marks, congratulated Minister Bartlett on behalf of the member states.

“I wish you… much success in the work that you will be leading as we begin deliberations to prepare the draft work plan based on the Declaration of Paraguay towards the reconstruction and rebuilding of tourism post coronavirus (COVID-19),” she said.

Minister Bartlett, in his response, called on all member states to work together to complete the plans and policy programmes that they had started.   This, he said, “would require a greater sense of innovation, as we cannot continue with things as they are”.

“We must now seek to find new ways to deal with new disruptions that seem destined to follow this pandemic,” he added.

Minister Bartlett thanked member states for the confidence placed in him by way of his election to the chair of the committee.  He pledged to be a strong, fruitful, and vibrant chairman and called for the support of each member state.

“We have so much to do, and I know the Americas are depending on us to chart the way to recovery and to thrive after recovery,” he said.

 

Contact: Derrick Scott

Release: JIS

 

 

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Facts laid out in Beach Vending Bill Debate by Tourism Minister Connolly

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 #TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2021 – Tourism Minister Josephine Connolly says the policy that birthed the controversial Beach and Coastal Vending bill was conceived under the PDM administration.

Connolly was speaking in the House of Assembly on November 30 when she made the claims.  She said the policy had been around since 2020 and had been in circulation among tourism stakeholders and publicly via the DECR up to June this year.

“The bill was circulated in 2020 up to three times. In June of this year the policy was again circulated. And the DECR held meetings to discuss the policy and some of the changes.”

Connolly claimed that the policy which had been drafted by the previous administration and had then been intentionally ignored by them.

“…Mr Speaker, I met on my desk a draft policy on beach vending prepared by the previous government. It had sat there gathering dust, not because it was not needed but because the previous government did not want to deal with it,” the Minister said after laying the Bill for its second reading.

Connolly insisted however that she was up to the task of seeing the bill through.

“They let it slide; leave it for the next guy, but I am the next guy and I am not shy.”

She went on to reference a specific issue affecting vendors. She said currently, vendors only needed a business license to operate on the beach. This resulted in vendors tying up several booths and denying other vendors a chance.

She claimed the bill would fix this as each vendor would only be allowed one license to operate on the beach, thus increasing fairness.

 

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