Health Minister Nickolas Steele has announced plans to increase border patrol on the sister isle of Petite Martinique as the Ministry engages in new COVID-19 measures to monitor attempts by individuals to breach Grenada’s borders.
The announcement came Tuesday, one day after several locals were placed in quarantine and observation, until they can be cleared from possible COVID-19 infection, after they were exposed to a crew on board a yacht from South America that entered the country illegally.
The locals went to assist the yacht after it encountered some difficulty while exiting a local marina after being informed that it was not a Ministry of Health-approved port of entry at this time.
The Ministry of Health has designated two ports for entry into Grenada via yachts – the Tyrell Bay Marina on the sister isle of Carriacou and the Grenada Yacht Club, which is a designated quarantine area.
Speaking to reporters in St. George’s, Minister Steele said that government is aware that some yachts are trying to enter the island without going through the protocol which entails entry in a designated area.
“We continue to have attempts to breach our borders…and we do have still individuals who try to breach our quarantine…as we are in the Christmas season we do expect the frequency of attempts to breach our borders to increase…,” he said.
“…We are looking at Petite Martinique in particular that would have additional wardens on the ground to be further eyes and ears for the nation and particular the people of Petite Martinique with respects to yachts coming in from the north,” he added.
The Health Minister also used the opportunity to caution promoters and event hosts against large scale events during the upcoming Christmas season.
He warned that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic this year, it cannot be business as usual.
“…We must all come to terms with the fact that this is not going to be a normal Christmas, that the events in Grenada, the threats that exist through Grenada and the events in the world necessitate, unfortunately that this would not be a normal Christmas, he said.
According to Minister Steele, the Ministry of Health “will also be stepping up or continuing the increased monitoring and roving teams to look for non-compliance with respect to events throughout the nation (during the festive season.)
“We are seeing most of the world in lockdown, not being able to have any activities,” he said, pointing to measures prohibiting all entertainment activities in places like the United Kingdom, Toronto, certain States in the United States and as close to home as neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago and St. Lucia, which face similar challenges.
“One cannot expect that Grenada would be any different,” he remarked.
Minister Steele dismissed the perception of many that entertainment events should be allowed to run its normal course in light of government’s announcement of no community spread of the virus on the island.
He said: “I have heard many people say that we don’t have community spread here, so why can’t we not (hold the events) but I want to reiterate the definition and the meaning of community spread and how we would know if we have community spread.
“We would know community spread when people start showing up at our health facilities with symptoms for COVID-19 and (take a) test and the test would be positive. Community spread means that there is no connection to somebody imported – that we are not aware how it is spreading or who was patient zero,” he added.
The minister indicated that at this point “it would be too late to ask promoters and entertainment facilities not to have large scale events”, but however said that his ministry “is trying to be accommodating as possible;”
He alluded to challenges with “individuals who are not asking for permission but are promoting publicly large scale events, individuals asking for a specific type of event and then having something totally different (and those) individuals who say that the crowd would not be larger than ‘x’ and then allowing the crowd to be much larger.”
The senior government minister called on individuals to take personal responsibility for their actions.
“Individuals have to take personal responsibility. It cannot be purely the police and the Ministry of Health to ensure that we all do what is necessary,” he said.
“So, I am pleading with the promoters and entertainers throughout… what we want is to get more of you to be more responsible with respect to the types of activities that you may choose to have over the Christmas season…because we do not want to have to withdraw further…,” he added.