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Caricom travel bubble bursts

Health Minister Nickolas Steele

Grenada has exited the Caricom Travel Bubble because of worry over community spread of COVID-19 in other participating Caribbean islands and is in the process of amending regulations to suit.

Health Minister Nickolas Steele told a sitting of Parliament on Friday that “the CARICOM Bubble’ has burst, it’s not what we will like it to be”.

The minister made the disclosure while addressing the House of Representatives on amendments to Grenada’s COVID-19 protocols that once passed, legally removes Grenada from participating in the Caricom initiative as originally conceived and approved by Heads of Government in September.

The Travel Bubble allowed Caricom travellers or persons resident in Caricom for at least 14 days, to enter Grenada with a negative PCR, no period of quarantine, and no further PCR testing.

In September, Grenada passed regulations giving legal teeth to this.

Minister Steele told the sitting of Parliament that because of community spread and a lack of uniformed entry protocols among the islands, Grenada will leave the bubble.

“There is community spread in some islands and we are unable to find a common entry protocol,” Steele said, telling legislators that some countries have entry protocols that are stronger or weaker when compared to what is in effect in Grenada.

“We are making adjustments to the protocols based on current science,” he said.

The amendment allows for quarantine days to be increased to seven days, up from four days.

Grenada announced its 29th laboratory confirmed case on Monday. Of that number there are two active cases, according to the Ministry of Health.

A release issued on Monday said that all other cases, including the most recent 25 to 27, have been medically cleared, and are no longer under quarantine.

Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, speaking in support of the amendment said Grenada’s exit would affect tourism however she added that the safety of the Grenadian people comes first.

When the travel bubble was established it was viewed as a major step towards resuscitating the COVID-19 challenged travel and tourism sectors.

Minister Modeste-Curwen said she was disappointed that all the islands are unable to establish a common travel protocol.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat were all initially in the bubble.

Minister Steele said there will be continuous assessment and review of the islands based on cases and those with less than 20 cases per 100,000 population in 14 days will require PCR testing and a minimum of seven days quarantine.

The amendment to the COVID-19 travel protocols also received support from Opposition Leader Tobias Clement.

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