There is no quarantine for returning nationals and visitors to St Lucia that are fully vaccinated. So said Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee at a recent media briefing, held to discuss COVID-19 protocols within the tourism sector.
He informed that measures are underway to ensure taxi drivers and other tourism-related employees adapt their operations to comply with the requirements of the Covid-19 protocols.
Described as “custodians of the protocol” by Fedee, the workers have been assured that every effort is being taken to preserve their health and safety.
Fedee stated that the 1,300 taxi drivers certified to transport visitors to sites across the island are closely monitored in order to ensure that safety protocols are adhered to.
“You want to make sure that you do employ these safeguards at every level,” he told reporters at a recent media brief.
Fedee said it was important to ensure that those passengers consist of “people who are vaccinated; you have the pre-testing requirement and then again you want to train all of the nationals who are going to be exposed to the tourism industry, to be able to deal with any risk that may come up.”
He added: “Because we have been so meticulous about the protocols, they have worked significantly. We see that there is very little evidence of transfer of COVID-19 from guest to those employees, taxi drivers or tourism workers.”
Fedee asserted that those measures were taken to “ensure that we build a very solid wall of protection around those individuals, because they are front liners.”
The minister noted that the authorities are committed to “doing everything that is possible …and will spare no effort to ensure their safety.”
“At the sites and attractions as well, everyone there is trained to deal with the (COVID) virus and there is a very strong understanding of what entails and why the protocols are necessary,” he said.
He added that, “they have to ensure that they become ‘custodians of the protocols’ and ensure that they do their best to have customers and fellow employees uphold the protocols.”
With reference to the cruise industry, Fedee commented that discussions are ongoing “and we are very close to signing an MOU with one of the major cruise brands …and we want to make sure that we do this very safely.”
He said it was equally important “that we have a mutual understanding between ourselves and the cruise lines so that we can do this in a step by step approach to make sure that we do this right, instead of trying to do this fast.”
Fedee asserted: “What is the number one priority? It is that the safety of the people of St Lucia…and I feel the cruise lines are of that view as well, the safety of their customers.”
He noted, “It’s very difficult to manage tourism in the era of COVID and there’s a lot to consider that one would not have had to consider in normal times.
“And so, therefore we are making sure we do this properly and when we would have agreed with the cruise lines on asset of protocols that would make it mutually beneficially for both our population, our tourism workers and everyone that comes to St Lucia,” Fedee said.
Meanwhile, with allocation being made for some visitors to roam the city scenery, vendors are also being trained to comply with the protocols.
“A lot of vendors have been trained …to make sure that they too can be part of it,” said Fedee. “We want to make sure that the same protocols that exist for the various attractions, those same protocols are going to exist for the arcade and craft market,” he added.
“It’s very important that we get everyone ready and everyone understands what is required to manage the protocols,” he said.
Fedee said measures are also in place to identify fully vaccinated visitors to the island so they can be allowed limited movements, under strict health precautions.