#TurksandCaicos, August 17, 2021 – In 14 days, things will change dramatically for the Turks and Caicos when it comes to who is allowed into the country as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to force sweeping reviews of rules in the travel and tourism industry.
“Approved amendments to existing measures under the Public and Environmental Health (COVID-19 Pandemic) Regulations 2020, with effect from 1 September 2021 until further notice, as follows: All visitors aged 16 and above to be fully vaccinated on arrival in TCI,” a rule evolving from the Turks and Caicos Islands Cabinet meeting of August 11.
Turks and Caicos is setting the bar very high for tourists to enter the country, after guests accounted for nearly 70 per cent of the new cases of Covid-19 and following discovery of the delta strain within the islands.
Now, in addition to mandatory medical coverage, mandatory testing within three days of travel to Turks and Caicos, every tourist 16 years and older must be vaccinated.
The new measure is met with harsh criticism and deep concern, as the industry has in recent months shown tremendous signs of a pre-Covid 19 bounce-back.
The Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association had the chance to weigh in on the government’s response to the spike in tourist positives last week; a poll which tipped the scales in favour of not mandating vaccination for tourists.
“Discussions were held last week Thursday (August 5) with the sector to get their feedback on possible measures for the surge in cases,” said newly appointed minister of Health, Jamell Robinson.
From the sector there was not unanimous support informed Trevor Musgrove, president of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, who also said the industry despite stands by the government’s “tough” decision.
“My understanding was that they voted against it,” said Ken Patterson, CEO of Seven Stars resort, “We don’t know what percentage of our tourists are unvaccinated, so no one knows what impact this will have on TCI.”
Patterson also believes government would be better strengthened in its response to the spike in tourism and imported cases of Covid-19 and the Delta variant with measures which empowered resort owners to get all frontline staff vaccinated and says, with some tweaking the new standard could be a plus for safe tourism.”
“Why are tourists being asked to provide a negative test and insurance if they are already vaccinated? This could be made into a positive tourism message if these, now unnecessary, requirements are dropped.”
Still, new minister of Health Jamell Robinson said the Cabinet determined this would be the best rule as of September 1.
“We have to balance lives and livelihoods; 68 per cent of the 133 positive cases as of early July were visitors. Community spread was evidence by the contact tracing. With the pervasiveness of the Delta Variant, it could be asked, could we afford not to make the change?”
During the press conference Minister Robinson offered, “Ninety of the 133 persons who tested positive from early July to date were tourists; that is a significant percentage so based on that, we know we have to put measures in place to deal with that large proportion of the COVID positives and one of the ways of doing that is to ensure that all tourists coming in are vaccinated.”
The Health minister, during his debut press conference held on August 12 echoed a message and vision which had been shared by Nigel Dakin, TCI Governor ahead of the first batch of UK-gifted vaccines arrival to the Turks and Caicos.
“What this allows us to do, is to market the Turks and Caicos Islands as a vaccination-only destination. So, that says to the world, we are a safe holiday destination that gives confidence to persons boarding that plane who are vaccinated that once they get into the Turks and Caicos Islands, the people they interact with, who are other visitors will be a vaccinated and the adults we have, at least 67 per cent of them are fully vaccinated.”
Cancellations are expected by the tourism and travel industry. Cancellations are already being recorded to the destination.
Among the other Caribbean region countries restricting inbound travellers to vaccinated-only visitors are Anguilla, Puerto Rico and St. Kitts and Nevis, according to Travel Weekly.com.
Over 68,000 STAYED HOME in Bahamas Elections; We have BEST and WORST for Voter Participation
#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – The just-concluded General Election in Bahamas has presented a new shift in governance. The former ruling part, Free National Movement, lost nearly all the electoral seats it secured in the 2017 general elections. However, this seems a swap of the Progressive Liberal party’s score in the 2017 general elections in which the former ruling party (FNM) won nearly all the parliamentary seats.
68,000 STAYED AWAY
While the FNM secured 35 out of 39 seats in the 2017 ballot, leaving only four slots for the Opposition, the 2021 elections presented “new day” with the Opposition clinching 32 parliamentary seats, leaving the former ruling party FNM with only seven slots.
However, the election results showed a significant drop in voter turnout compared to the 2017 election results. Out of 194,494 registered voters in The Bahamas, only 126,414 voted, translating to 65 per cent voter turnout.
PREVIOUS ELECTION HIGHER
This was different from the previous election in which 160,407 out of 181,543 registered voters cast their ballots, translating to a remarkable 88.36 per cent voter turnout.
Being the first election in the island nation since the Covid-19 struck the Caribbean; the dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and the current countermeasures taken by individuals to avoid contracting the deadly virus.
It could also be voter apathy.
BEST IN SHOW
Despite coronavirus prevalence in the country, North Andros & Berry Islands, Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and Mangrove Cay & South Andros constituencies recorded an impressive voter turnout of 77.99 per cent, 76.11 per cent and 73.06 per cent respectively.
North Andros & Berry Islands had 2,126 out of 2,569 registered voters cast their ballots, followed by 1,255 out of 1,622 in Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and 1,706 out of 2,164 registered voters in Mangrove Cay & South Andros.
VERY LOW SHOW
The bottom three constituencies in terms of voter turnout include Bamboo Town, which had 3,436 out of 5,838 (58.63 per cent) registered voters cast their ballot, followed by Garden Hills with 3,033 out of 5,287 (57.09 per cent), and Central & South Abaco falling at the bottom of the list with 1,844 out of 3,271 (55.96 per cent).
COVID Works programme launched by Ministry of Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development
#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021 – The Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, the Honourable Akierra Mary Deanne Missick and the Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development team are pleased to announce the launch of the COVID WORKS Programme, that went live on September 1, 2021.
The Programme seeks to support many who have lost jobs and livelihoods, while providing labour intensive work for economic exchange opportunities for persons to be engaged.
Works are set out in three (3) levels and comprise a variety of categories example, cleaning, road works, demolition and general construction to name a few.
Level 1 – value $1,500 – $9,999
Level 2 – value $10,000 – $39,999
Level 3 – value $40,000 – $70,000
Commenting on the launch of the programme, Hon. Missick said, “We are very much mindful of the impact that restrictions introduced by Government in an effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, has had on the islands, many continue to experience financial hardship. Whilst, the hospitality and construction sectors in Providenciales have rebounded well, as an Administration, we cannot rest knowing that other industries are still limping along.
As a result, during the remainder of this financial year, the Turks & Caicos Islands Government has now launched the COVID Works Programme to provide an opportunity for Petty and Small Contractors to assist the Government in the enhancement of our communities, through programmed works, to the benefit of all of us as residents”.
The Minister went on to note, “This Programme is set to the tune of US$5,000,000.00, and works will be rolled out across the Islands in batches, as we have to ensure that we do not go beyond the allotted expenditure and that financial oversight and transparency are maintained.”
The initial batch of works for South Caicos, which comprised the following, was returned and evaluated on Monday, September 13, 2021 and included:
Demolition- Queen’s Shed
Demolition- Distribution Concrete Tank
Demolition- Old Clinic Building
Demolition- DECR Building
Demolition- Library Building
Repair of Water Cistern
Works for Grand Turk included:
Demolition- Blood Bank Building
Demolition- Geriatric Ward Building
Demolition- Kitchen Building
Demolition- X-ray Building
All returning bids must be sent to the COVID Works email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kindly note that as of Monday, September 20, 2021, the following works are planned to be released:
Beach Cleaning (Eastern portion of Grand Turk)
Street Cleaning (All areas)
Beach cleaning (Areas of Shore Club and Five Cays)
Street Cleaning (All areas)
A number of other works for Middle & North Caicos, as well as Salt Cay will be released shortly. This is a six month program that will spread throughout the TCI and we encourage persons to continue to register via email@example.com or the local Public Works Department and District Commissioners’ offices, to be eligible for this opportunity.
These works will continue on a monthly basis and the programme will come to an end in March 2022.
BAHAMAS: Nine new Cabinet ministers sworn-in
#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis today introduced the first set of new Cabinet ministers with portfolios covering the Attorney General, Foreign Affairs, Education, Works and Public Utilities, Health and Wellness, Government Affairs, Agriculture, National Security and Legal Affairs.
The nine ministers were sworn-in on Monday 20 September 2021 by Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith during ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Center.
“They are the initial members of a Cabinet which will reflect the breadth and depth of the competencies and characteristics of our team: experience combined with innovation; expertise combined with a willingness to see things anew; integrity and a strong sense of purpose,” said Prime Minister Davis.
“They are receiving these appointments because of their determination to get things done.”
- Senator the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, Attorney General;
- Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service;
- Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education, and Technical and Vocational Training;
- Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities;
- Dr. Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness;
- Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Government Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate;
- Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs;
- Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; and
- Hon. Jomo Campbell, Minister of State for Legal Affairs.
“I am confident that these first-appointed members of our Cabinet team are ready to deliver on the promise of a New Day for our Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Davis pledged to move with urgency to address the economic and health crises that are faced by The Bahamas.
Many thousands of Bahamians are out of work, people are losing too many loved ones to the COVID-19 virus and Bahamian schoolchildren are falling behind, said Prime Minister Davis.
“I want to be clear: we are not here to tinker at the edges of these problems,” said the Prime Minister.
“We are here to meet them head on.”
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