ROSEAU, Dominica – Dominica's government has announced a relaxation of some of the measures put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Health, Wellness and New Health Investment, Dr. Irving McIntyre, in a statement noted that from March 2020, the island has been dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic “which has significantly affected our way of life and livelihoods.
“Over the last two years we have gone through various phases of the pandemic and we have had to respond to periods of surges, new variants, hospitalization, and deaths,” he said.
In his radio and television broadcast, Dr. McIntyre said that as of April 4th, restrictions on religious gatherings have been removed and that churches are no longer restricted to a maximum attendance of 150 and may operate at full capacity.
He said public transportation is allowed to operate at full capacity and that restrictions on educational Instruction have been removed. Day cares and preschools will be allowed to re-open in keeping with health protocols developed for these establishments.
The Minister said that primary and secondary schools will return to full face to face learning for the third term on April 25, adding that all other educational institutions will resume normal operations in keeping with their academic schedules.
Dr. McIntyre said that all bars are allowed to resume normal operations and that restrictions on music and congregating have been removed.
“Nightclubs are allowed to reopen for under 300 patrons with strict adherence to health protocols. Restrictions on social activity, such as private parties and sporting activities, with fewer than 300 in attendance have been removed.”
He said that for special events of above 300 patrons, a special event permit is required.
“Proof of vaccination or negative antigen test result within 24 hours of entry is required and other health protocols will be applied. Sporting events with above 300 patrons will be hosted under the revised Special Event Protocols. Nightclubs hosting events for over 300 patrons must also comply with the Special Event Protocols.”
Dr. McIntyre said that physical distancing of six feet is no longer mandatory at businesses and that restrictions on visitation to the prison, hospitals and homes for the aged have been removed.
But he advised that these institutions will formulate internal policies for visitation, in keeping with health protocols and these policies should be strictly adhered to and that the mask mandate remains in effect and will be reviewed in May.
“The removal of the mask mandate will depend on an increase in vaccination numbers and further reduction in COVID-19 cases so we are all urged to continue following the protocols. All businesses, establishments, churches, schools and forms of public transportation are required to conform to the safety protocols such as sanitizing and the wearing of masks,” Dr. McIntyre added.
He said that in addition to the relaxation of restrictions imposed under the Environmental Health Services Regulations, changes have been made to travel protocols to further ease travel to Dominica and support the full reopening of the tourism sector.
“For the cruise sector, all vaccinated passengers will be allowed to disembark and tour freely in keeping with established cruise ship and port protocols. Cruise sector workers – taxi drivers, vendors, tour guides – must be vaccinated or present a negative, 48-hour Antigen test result and Safe in Nature pass.”
Dr. McIntyre said that the requirement for pre-arrival testing and testing on arrival for vaccinated travelers at all ports of entry, to include seafarers and yachters, has been removed and that pre-arrival testing and testing on arrival will remain in place for unvaccinated travelers at the traveler's cost.
“Unvaccinated travelers who test negative on arrival will no longer be required to quarantine. Testing on arrival for symptomatic travelers will remain in effect. Travellers who test positive, will be isolated in keeping with local isolation protocols.”
Dr. McIntyre said that children 12 and under will assume the status of parents or guardian and travelers will no longer be required to fill and submit the pre-travel form online.
“While we are pleased to announce these changes and look forward to the positive impact on the economy and our livelihoods, I wish to urge the public to remain cautious. This announcement by no way means that COVID-19 is no longer with us. This is now the era of personal responsibility and I encourage everyone to continue to adhere to all safety measures to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.
“Continue to wear your masks, wash and sanitize your hands, follow proper respiratory etiquette, and most importantly get vaccinated to protect your health and help stop the spread of the virus,” he said.