TCI Health Officials & Carnival will work on Post-Covid Protocols for Safe Cruising
#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.
Three Days to NIB Rate Increase for 2023
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, March 29, 2023 – On April 1st, the second round of increases on contributions at the National Insurance Board will kick in for the Turks and Caicos workforce. Announced last year, the increases were instituted to keep the NIB from running out of money by 2027 as it services a population that is living longer with contributions that had not been increased in 30 years.
As the Government’s new financial year begins, increases at NIB will mean a higher cost for doing business and a higher cost for running the Government.
The private sector is expected to pay contributions at a rate of 11 percent on your taxable income. The hike is up from last year’s 10 per cent; six percent of which is to be paid by the Employer and five percent is to be paid by the Employee. For wages of $2000, this will mean a $200 improvement in income per month to the NIB. As for the burn on residents’ pockets, based on a minimum wage of $1200 monthly salary, that’s at least $60 dollars a month and $720 per year.
Public sector rates will move to 10.15 percent up from 9.15 per cent with the worker paying 4.575 per cent and the Government paying 5.575 per cent; that’s $54 a month and $648 a year at minimum wage.
The NIB rate as of April 1, 2023, will jump to 9 percent for self-employed individuals; For self-employed individuals at minimum wage, that is $108 dollars a month or $1296 per year.
As taxable incomes increase so will the contribution.
The increases follow a 2019 Actuarial review, undertaken every three years, which unearthed that the NIB was facing a dismal future, possible collapse. Contribution rates were growing at a rate much slower than NIB expenses, which included beneficiary payouts. On that trajectory, the NIB’s earnings would be eclipsed by its income by 2027, forcing the worker protection plan to draw down on money saved for economic shocks like Covid-19.
Unsurprisingly, this was deemed untenable, and an immediate increase was recommended.
Despite this scramble to boost earnings, the NIB has simultaneously increased payouts. Payouts for pensions, funeral grants, maternity grants and more will all attract bigger sums.
These incremental increases on contributions and payouts were all consultant recommendations, informed statements from the Board.
Work of NAECOB critical in ensuring high standards in education, says Minister Hanna-Martin
Bahamas Golden Jubilee Events Announced, Celebrations Across 33 Islands & Cays
#TheBahamas, March 27, 2023 – As the 50th anniversary of our nation’s independence approaches, Bahamians everywhere are teeming with excitement and expectancy around the year-long celebrations set by The National Independence Secretariat.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister joined H.E Leslia Miller Brice, Chair of The National Independence Secretariat to unveil the Calendar of Events for the 50th Independence celebrations.
The calendar comprises a host of events, initiatives and recommendations for celebrations throughout all 33 islands of The Bahamas.
At this jubilant occasion the PM stated, “Celebrating independence is about acknowledging the greatness around us, the greatness within us, and the greatness ahead of us.
We are Bahamians. That identity is special.”
View the newly released calendar of events here:
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