Here’s how the islands of the Caribbean are addressing UK travel

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On December 14, the United Kingdom Public Health Agency reported a variant of SARS-CoV and on December 19, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock appeared on television to declare that the “new strain” was “out of control”.

This announcement prompted a new strict tier 4 lockdown in London and saw countries around the world suddenly banning travel with the UK.

The variant has been detected in Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium and Australia but the risk of importation into the Caribbean and rest of the world is high due to incoming travel from the United Kingdom and Europe.

On Monday, December 21, 2020, the Caribbean Public Health Agency hosted an emergency meeting with  PAHO/WHO, OECS and the Chief Medical Officers of the region to discuss the new risk by this new variant.

Here’s how some countries in the Caribbean have responded:

Antigua

Antigua & Barbuda is “not likely” to impose travel restrictions on flights arriving from United Kingdom.

Bahamas

Bahamas Health Minister Renward Wells said that the situation in the United Kingdom is being monitored but there are no immediate plans to impose a travel ban. There are currently no direct flights from the UK to the Bahamas, as these are scheduled to begin again in February.

Barbados

Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic has indicated that the country is being vigilant about the new COVID-19 strain but there will be no travel bans at this time.

Cayman Islands

With the next commercial inbound repatriation flight due to arrive in the Cayman Islands from the UK on January 5 2021, Government’s Programme Board, which oversees protocols for Travel Cayman, is currently assessing the situation with regards to the new strain of coronavirus identified in the UK. Officials say they will put additional measures in place around the flight, as needed, to protect the community but there are currently no travel bans in place.

Dominican Republic

All commercial passenger flights to and from the UK have been banned until at least January 10, 2021. This excludes cargo, mail, technical, and medical air transport, and commercial overflights. The measures are in addition to other COVID-19-related travel protocols and internal measures, which are likely to remain in place through at least the start of 2021.

Grenada

As of December 22, officials have suspended all passenger air traffic between Grenada and the UK. Anyone who has been in the UK within the previous 14 days is banned from entering Grenada. This will remain in effect until further notice. International travel to and from other locations is continuing.

Guyana

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugh Todd said the issue of banning travel to Guyana from the United Kingdom is yet to be discussed by the government.

Jamaica

Jamaica was the first Caribbean country to impose a ban. A statement issued Monday morning (December 21) by the Ministry of Health and Wellness said the ban would take effect immediately, prohibiting all flights from the UK to Jamaica for an initial two-week period ending January 4, 2021. Passengers onboard the three flights that arrived before midnight on Tuesday were subjected to quarantine and testing on arrival. 20 of the passengers who arrived in Jamaica from UK on Monday tested positive for the virus; the samples will be sent to CARPHA to determine if they were carriers of the mutated strain.

St. Lucia

Saint Lucia will not impose a travel ban on the United Kingdom. “There is no indication at this point of increased infection severity or virulence associated with the new variant or changes with the vaccine efficacy,” said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

St. Vincent & the Grenadines

The mandatory quarantine period for persons arriving from high-risk countries, including the UK, has been increased from 5 to 10 days starting from Wednesday, December 23. The quarantine must take place at a pre-approved quarantine hotel at the traveller’s expense.

Trinidad & Tobago

Travellers to Trinidad & Tobago who have been in the United Kingdom within 14 days of travel will need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel and will be required to be placed in state quarantine or state-supervised quarantine for a 14-day period.

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