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SVG borders will remain open unless conditions change – PM

SVG borders will remain open unless conditions change – PM
PRIME MINISTER Dr Ralph Gonsalves


THE BORDERS of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) will remain open even as other countries across the region have opted to implement total and partial shut downs in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves delivered a national address on Wednesday, March 25 to update the country on the measures in place for COVID-19 and announce a stimulus package of more than $70 million.

In his address, he said that all airports and seaports of entry remain open except in Chateaubelair, which has been closed temporarily.

“…There is much enhanced border control and surveillance of persons with symptoms of Covid-19 and other persons of health interest. The Immigration Officers and the health personnel at airports and ports of entry work closely with each other on this matter,” he said.

Gonsalves noted that the challenge of COVID-19 and its consequences encompass four dimensions: health, economic, social and security. And these dimensions interconnect across countries.

“This inter-relatedness and criss-crossing of all these dimensions affect St. Vincent and the Grenadines directly, without recourse to any particular action on our part,” he said.

The prime minister added that “the closing of borders of some countries with which St Vincent and the Grenadines meaningfully interfaces, the curtailment of travel from some countries, and the decisions of cruise lines and airlines to suspend operations, have resulted in massive declines our returning migrants, in tourist arrivals, the closure of hotels, and the laying-off of workers”.

St Lucia, after its third confirmed case of COVID-19, declared a state of emergency on Monday, March 23.

All airports in St Lucia are closed to incoming commercial and private flights until April 5.

According to reports, all airports in Grenada are closed to incoming international flights and all seaports are closed to regional and international seafaring and private boating.

St Kitts and Nevis has also closed its airports and seaports to all commercial flights and maritime interests until April 7.

And reports indicate that the VC Bird International Airport in Antigua and Barbuda will restrict entry to all commercial traffic from midnight, Thursday March 26.

Dominica, after recording local transmission of the virus, also suspended all commercial air and sea access to non-nationals from March 26. Access to all travellers including Dominicans and residents will be suspended from March 28 until further notice.

Gonsalves acknowledged that countries in the region have issued total shutdowns, partial shutdowns and in some cases, have made declarations of states of emergency or an entire country as a disaster area.

He said other countries have adopted a broad approach of incremental measures for lower risks and accelerated measures for more heightened risks, which has also been done in SVG in accordance with all the circumstances.

“However, make no mistake, if in any altered condition of this shifting maze of Covid-19, that it is deemed necessary and desirable to adopt the most extreme measures legally permissible, my government will act accordingly,” the Prime Minister said.