BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 2nd October 2020) – A welcome centre on the ramp in front of the Arrivals area at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, converting the VIP Lounge into the medical screening area and constructing sneeze guards on the counters have been listed as part of the works, for passenger movement, to be carried out as St.Kitts-Nevis gets ready to reopen its borders come Saturday 31st October 2020 after being closed in March, guided by the advice of health officials.
Speaking at his monthly press conference held on Thursday 1st October, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Timothy Harris made the announcement of the exact opening date with other details surrounding the works expected to take place.
“I can report that our borders will be fully opened on October 31st, 2020. We open our borders not just for tourists or hoteliers.”
He added: “We do this to allow our nationals and residents abroad the opportunity to return home to their families, their jobs and their communities in a more regular and predictable way. Additionally, we allow for hotels to open up again to visitors and other guests, and for the resumption of work for our people.”
He told that he is advised by the Tourism Authority that, so far, 3,458 workers in hotel, hospitality and transport sectors have been exposed to training as to the new norms for living and working safely in a COVID-19 environment while Chairman of the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA), Damion Hobson has advised that works at our main airport the RLB International started on Monday 28th September.
Dr. Harris went on to say that contractor Baley Project Management has advised SCASPA that work will be completed not later than October 26th, 2020 noting that “The first phase of the work addresses the Welcome Centre on the ramp in front of the Arrivals area, converting the VIP Lounge into the Medical Screening area and constructing sneeze guards on the counters.”
Additionally, he pointed out that he has consulted health experts.
“They have been working with SCASPA on plans to retrofit the airport for passenger movement in a manner that minimizes risk of COVID-19 infection by our Frontline Workers at the airport, including our Immigration Officers, Customs Officers and Taxi Operators. Having consulted with our critical stakeholders regarding their readiness, and taking into account the level of national preparedness and awareness of the risks of COVID-19, we will open our borders to the rest of the world but we will never drop our guard. Lives must be protected at all costs.”
PM Harris remarked that St. Kitts and Nevis has come a long way in its successful management of the COVID-19 cases.
“We are designated by the U.S. based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a very low-risk destination. We are one of the countries approved to be a part of the CARICOM bubble. These gains should never be frittered away with selfish and irresponsible behaviours by citizens, residents and visitors.”
He highlighted the importance of residents complying with the health protocols in controlling the spread of the virus.
“Accordingly, in preparation for the imminent opening of our borders, we have insisted that our citizens and residents comply with all health protocols, especially the wearing of masks in public, frequent hand-washing, physical and social distancing (avoiding large crowds and congestion). These practices have to become second nature to us as we work to protect ourselves, our families, our friends and loved ones. Given that all our cases of COVID-19 were travel-related or imported cases, strict compliance with the health protocols is the only way to contain the spread of the virus, minimizing any strain on our small health system and loss of employment and productivity due to quarantine, isolation or hospitalization.”