CASTRIES, St. Lucia – The St. Lucia government has defended its decision to allow cruise ship passengers to tour the island on a “no movement Sunday” noting that in some cases “exceptions are made for businesses and activities that are critical for the growth of our economy”.
In a statement, the Ministry of Tourism and the St. Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA), said they are aware of videos circulating on social media, “depicting an unkindly expression of displeasure at an authorized cruise tourism operation on a “no movement Sunday”, where a bus stopped in a community for a bathroom break for some senior passengers.
St. Lucia has implemented a number of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Contrary to the opinions being expressed, we wish to inform the public that in addition to pre-boarding requirements, cruise passengers to St. Lucia are met with a full complement of protocols including being fully vaccinated, negative pre-boarding testing and health screening.
“The government of St. Lucia maintains that its protocols must apply to both visitors and nationals. However, in some cases exceptions are made for businesses and activities that are critical for the growth of our economy. Even when doing so, every effort is made to ensure that there are no or little health risks to nationals.”
The statement noted that the tourism industry touches many communities and many lives.
Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture, and Information Minister, Dr. Ernest Hilaire, said in the quest to protect lives and livelihoods, the government continues to implement strict protocols to ensure health and safety whilst seeking to maintain the island’s position as a premier cruise destination.
“We are cognizant that interruptions to cruise calls can result in a loss of service to the destination and thereby negatively impact the industry and its many dependents locally. It is therefore our mandate, to ensure that we continue to restore vitality to the sector while working in tandem with our cruise partners to maintain the highest standards of safety.
“It is why we have insisted that all passengers are vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 test when embarking,” Hilaire said.
The health authorities are calling on the public to participate ”actively and responsibly in the recovery of livelihoods and the fight against COVID-19 to get vaccinated and to be good ambassadors for our destination by treating each other with dignity and respect.
“We encourage St. Lucians to provide the warm welcome that we are known for worldwide. All St. Lucia’s are being called upon to ensure we continue to build on work done, and to be united to be safe and restore as many livelihoods as possible.”
In its latest health bulletin, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs said the island recorded 14 new cases of COVID-19 from a total of 106 samples which were collected between October 28-30.
It said these new cases bring the total number of cases diagnosed in-country to date to 12,573, while the number of active cases is 346. The island has recorded 255 deaths since March last year.