Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 07, 2020 (SKNIS): To continue protecting citizens and residents, as well as visitors from the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will reopen the borders in a phased approach.

“We are taking a phased approach and we must get this right. The aim is to reopen safely with minimum risk of reintroduction of the virus to the Federation. Appropriate protocols are being developed and confirmed to ensure the safety of our people and safety of the inbound traveler or tourists,” said Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Hazel Laws, on the October 06 edition of ‘Leadership Matters’, a virtual forum on ZIZ TV. “The aim is to avoid a second lockdown which is usually longer than the first.”

CMO Dr. Laws provided an overview of the protocols for the reopening of the Federation’s borders.

“In phase one, all inbound travellers to the Federation will have to log into the national website prior to travelling to complete and submit the entry form with required details including evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test done within three days of travel. This PCR test must be done at an accredited laboratory,” said Dr. Laws…

“The second phase will involve an expanded list of hotels certified to accept inbound travelers or tourist with significant risk from hot spots. Such hotels must submit the appropriate protocols to ensure safe operations and minimal risk of COVID-19 outbreak on the property, Dr. Laws added. “The second phase will also involve an expanded list of excursions and local tourist destination sites that are COVID-19 certified with the relevant protocols.  The second phase, more than likely, will involve other changes in the existing protocols based on the surveillance data we would collect, and the outcomes observed in the first phase.”

Dr. Laws indicated that reopening the borders in phases is important and will aid in assisting St. Kitts and Nevis to prevent a second wave of infections. She noted that this can only happen if citizens and residents adhere to several health and safety measures.

“All stakeholders should adhere to infection, prevention and control measures to ensure the safety of our frontline workers, the safety of our people and the safety of all inbound travelers and tourists. We must always maintain good hand hygiene – we need to wash our hands regularly and we need to use appropriate hand sanitizers. We need to get back to this practice,” she said. “We need to maintain adequate sanitation in the school and workplace settings, in the business places and, particularly, in the high-risk settings like in our prisons and nursing homes for older adults.”

Additionally, the importance of maintaining physical distancing of more than one meter or 3.3 feet when out in public spaces was also emphasized. Dr. Laws encouraged citizens and residents to avoid crowds and events with a significant number of persons gathered together. These practices, she said, should now become second nature.