Grenada PM says commercial airlines not willing to test passengers
ST GEORGE'S, Grenada (CMC) — Grenada says commercial airlines have so far not agreed to make it mandatory for passengers to test prior to travel and as a result the island will only continue to welcome chartered flights as these offer greater levels of due diligence in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell in a radio and television broadcast on Sunday night, said that as the global pandemic continues to spiral out of control, “there is a corresponding increase in the potential for importation of the virus if we open our borders without the necessary protocols in place.
“At this point, we continue to work on the finalisation of protocols before we begin to accept commercial flights,” Mitchell said, noting that many Grenadians would wish to “remain in the protective bubble that has kept us safe since March and that we can maintain the COVID-free status announced earlier this month.
“However, this is not a practical, long-term option. Caribbean countries may not have reached consensus on when to re-open our borders, but given the importance of tourism, this is generally regarded as one of the critical milestones in the effort to restart economies. “The timing, however, must be right, and public health remains of paramount importance.”
Mitchell said that while he understands the plight of nationals who have been stranded overseas for months, he is also aware of the keen anticipation of others, to visit a country that has successfully managed the pandemic, prevented community spread and achieved COVID-free status.
“However, when we consider the overarching priority to protect our citizens, we must continue to do all that we can, to limit the potential importation of the disease,” Mitchell said, noting that the existing protocols may be perceived as rigorous, but they have to be, because public health and safety are at risk. “We have tested and evaluated the protocols and identified areas for improvement. Therefore, for the immediate future, Grenada will only continue to welcome chartered flights as these offer greater levels of due diligence, with respect to the established protocols which include testing before departure, testing upon arrival and agreement to bear the cost of quarantine.
“Commercial airlines have thus far not agreed to make it mandatory for passengers to test prior to travel and this is contrary to Grenada's protocols,” Mitchell said, acknowledging nonetheless that “the day will come when commercial flights will resume”.
Mitchell said that the island is now entering the next phase in this fight against COVID-19 and praised the frontline workers including the National Advisory Committee that has drawn upon the expertise of the various stakeholders.
Mitchell said that while the government has been granting additional easements in the COVID-19 regulations to allow more and more businesses to operate, Cabinet will be recommending that as of Tuesday, June 30, the curfew is extended from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm (local time).