SVG excluded from UK ‘travel corridor’
While St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has been included in the list of countries the United Kingdom (UK) government has approved for non-essential travel by their nationals, all persons travelling from SVG to the UK must self-isolate for 14 days once they get there.
The requirement that travellers from SVG self-isolate on arrival in the UK follows the exclusion of this country from the UK’s ‘travel corridor’, a decision which has surprised many, including the local British representative Steve Moore.
“It is something I must say which has completely baffled me, given the situation here on the ground with no active cases, no deaths or anything like that,” Moore told SEARCHLIGHT in an interview yesterday.
He explained that as far as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is concerned, it is no longer unsafe for individuals from the UK to travel to SVG, “which is excellent news, which is something we have been pushing for.”
However, at the same time, the Department of Transport has issued an advisory saying that SVG is not exempted from the requirement to self-isolate on arrival in the UK.
The local British representative said the decision about the UK’s ‘travel corridor’ was made by a committee comprising representatives of the Border Force, Public Health England and the Department for Transport.
“The decision as I understand it was made by Public Health England, they recommended to this committee, different things, which resulted in SVG’s exclusion from the quarantine exemption. It is something which we don’t understand, which we are actively and aggressively chasing with London, all day Friday, over the weekend and this morning as well, just to better understand why that decision was taken, because from where we sit and the information we have, it just doesn’t make sense.
“…We are trying everything possible and as quickly as possible to rectify this and put it right,” the High Commissioner said.
Moore said his colleagues in the Foreign Office are trying to get the information from Public Health England as to why such a decision was made.
“We are actively, both here, my colleagues in Barbados and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London are actively following up to try to understand the rationale for such a decision with the aim, if there was a misunderstanding, then hopefully, we can rectify this as soon as possible because I know that it has an impact here.”
He explained that there is a list of criteria that Public Health England looks at including the incidences of Covid; the number of deaths; the incidences per 100,000.
“Certainly in terms of incidences and deaths, there is absolutely no reason at all.”
Moore said in terms of incidences of Covid-19 per population, there are fewer people and more cases in Antigua for example, yet, that country has been included in the ‘travel corridor’.
However, the diplomat disclosed, there are other criteria which are under the control of Public Health England.
“It has to be Public Health England, their own criteria, which they have applied, which we just don’t understand and on what basis they have taken that decision, so that is the area we are sort of targeting,” Moore said.
The other CARICOM countries that have been excluded from the UK ‘travel corridor’ are Belize, Guyana, Haiti and Suriname.