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PM: If We Are Not Careful In Opening Up Our Borders The Consequences Could Be Severe

St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): With tourism still the main economic driver and provider of jobs, several Caribbean countries battling COVID-19, have reopened borders with special provisions in place before and on arrival. The Federation for its part is making plans to do the same even as no set date has been announced.

Online media “Statista” reports that COVID-19 could cause the Caribbean to suffer losses of US$44 billion in a worst-case scenario. The best-case scenario puts losses to GDP at US$27 billion if there was a recovery in travel and tourism in the last half of 2020.

Last year, the contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP of the Caribbean amounted to close to US$59 billion, according to that publication.

The Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis on the government’s interactive “Leadership Matters” program aired on WINN and other stations Tuesday night (July 21) spoke to some of the issues to be considered before opening.

“Our next big task is our hotel and hospitality sector, most persons are optimistic that in good time we will see more opening up there especially in our hotel sector. This is the most challenging since this calls for the opening up of our borders to a larger and more regular influx of persons many of whom will be returning from areas that are Coronavirus hotspots, meaning that the likelihood that they will transmit the virus on arrival is greater. If we are not careful in opening up our borders the consequences could be severe. We could experience for example the overwhelming of our limited quarantine facilities, the overwhelming of our security forces in managing quarantine facilities at several locations. The overwhelming of our health sectors and eventually many persons could die.”

Dr. Harris said the government would have to expand the quarantine sites and train more people to support law enforcement at quarantine and tourism sites.

“More opportunities of course must be available for additional molecular testing facilities to provide quicker turn around results as we open up our borders. We note that our main hospital, the JNF hospital, now has the equipment to do high-quality tests for COVID-19 and we are working to set up equipment and put staff in training so that we can do more tests in St Kitts and Nevis. The training of all persons involved in the provision of hospitality service including the taxi operators, tour operators, receptionists, and front end workers in our hotels is necessary.”

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