Incoming passengers required to surrender passports until expiration of 14-day quarantine
Over 80 passengers who arrived this afternoon on AA 1427 from Miami were made to surrender their passports to Immigration Officers, as authorities step up efforts to ensure that persons entering St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) complete the required quarantine.
Additionally, the passengers, most of whom are holders of SVG passports were required to sign an “Undertaking to Quarantine” form issued by the Ministry of National Security, Air and Seaport Development.
The form, a copy of which SEARCHLIGHT has obtained (see below) said: “…as a result of the global pandemic, Covid-19, [I] UNDERTAKE to quarantine myself at my own expense at a home/hotel/other appropriate premises as set out below…
“…I will quarantine myself for a period of 14 days from today’s date. I understand that this self-quarantine is MANDATORY. I further understand that any breach of this undertaking will result in appropriate action under the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
“I have/have not, in the last 14 days, been in contact with any person known to have Covid-19. I do/do not have symptoms of Covid-19 (flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, diarrhoea, etc).”
Both nationals and non-nationals of SVG were required to surrender their passports, which will be returned to the holders upon compliance with the quarantine and all health protocols during the 14-day period, the form said.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment also today obtained, secured and served court orders to enforce this quarantine requirement, on the entire group of passengers who arrived on AA 1427 today, a release from the Ministry of Health said.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Saturday afternoon said this is “part of the leverage being employed to ensure that people coming into the country remain in quarantine.”
He said the same procedure will be followed for all relevant persons arriving in the country, going forward.
“Nationals cannot be excluded from the country, but the passports, being the property of the Government, will be retained to ensure that people who have been through any of the proscribed countries in the last 14 days, no matter the form of transport, remain in quarantine.”
The Prime Minister said all passengers, nationals and non-nationals alike, who arrived on the American Airlines flight on Saturday complied with the requirement to surrender their passports.
“There was one non-national who was reluctant to surrender her passport and that passenger quickly changed her mind because the option available to her was to go back on the plane,” Gonsalves said.
The quarantine requirement is for passengers arriving from China, the European Union (including Italy, the Overseas Departments of France (Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin, French Guiana), Iran, South Korea, United States of America (including USVI and Puerto Rico), Canada and the United Kingdom.
“The easy way to do this is to lock the country down,” Gonsalves said, but added: “there are things that can be done as we build consensus among the people.”
All persons previously instructed to be under quarantine are reminded that the instruction is mandatory and any breach may result in imprisonment and/or a fine, the release from the ministry of health said.