Dominica reopening its economy, cautiously

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By GIS, Dominica

ROSEAU, Dominica – The government of Dominica has taken another step towards reaching a sense of normalcy by reopening another sector of the economy, reports GIS Dominica. Prime minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit stated that the government, after numerous discussions and consultations with industry stakeholders, has approved protocols for special events.

In the first instance, the government will look to pilot special events which will occur between February 20 to March 1, 2022, and will only be made available to vaccinated citizens, cited prime minister Skerrit.

“These events will be open only to fully vaccinated patrons and will be held at two approved venues, the Windsor Park Sports Stadium Forecourt and the Old Mill Cultural Center. The Windsor Park Sports Stadium Forecourt, will be designated as the main event venue, to accommodate a maximum of 500 patrons. The Old Mill Cultural Center will be approved for virtual events and cater for up to 200 patrons,” Skerrit said.

The new guidelines also state that each event will be permitted a six-hour duration, and only one event will be held a day.

No street jump-ups, village carnivals, unauthorized gatherings of groups and troops, or activities will be approved without having first applied for and received a permit. Approved activities are intended to be managed events for vaccinated patrons within a safe zone, to ensure the health and safety of patrons and the wider public.

Prime minister Skerrit explained that events have been carded for the Carnival holiday with a maximum capacity of 500 patrons.

“On February 28 and March 1, events are proposed for the Forecourt of the Windsor Park Stadium. Both day-events will be live, catering for a maximum of 500 patrons; and streamed online. On both days, the events will run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Again, all revellers must be fully vaccinated and show proof of a negative antigen test up to 24 hours before the event,” Skerrit noted.

While ticket sales are the responsibility of the event organizers, tickets should only be sold to patrons upon provision of valid ID, contact details and proof of vaccination. Ticket holders will also have to submit proof of vaccination and a negative antigen test result from swabs taken 24 hours prior to each event.  Proof of vaccination and negative Antigen test result shall be validated prior to each event.

The prime minister explained that these guidelines have been developed to provide direction for the hosting of events during this carnival season and for the foreseeable future.

“The events planned during the Carnival Season, until March 1, will also serve as pilot activities which will provide us all with a template for the hosting of events on a more regular basis. We will be able to assess our successes and take note of our shortfalls so as to improve the organization of future events. Where there are gaps, we will adjust accordingly to ensure the safety of all patrons and minimize or eliminate completely, the threat of COVID-19 spread at events,” Skerrit explained.

The prime minister also announced that during this week, cabinet will give consideration to a set of guidelines for a blended approach to instruction which will take effect within the coming weeks.

“Schools will accommodate students by grade levels based on overall population size, while adhering to the recommended social distancing requirements. Primary schools with a smaller student population, with adequate classroom space for the stipulated social distancing, will conduct face to face instruction from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm for three days per week, Mondays to Wednesdays, and online sessions two days per week on Thursdays and Fridays,” he stated.

He explained that primary school students will be attending school face to face three times a week.

“For primary schools considered large, grades 3, 5 and 6 will attend face to face sessions two days per week, Mondays and Tuesdays, and students of K to Grade 2 will attend sessions two days per week on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Students of grade 4 will attend face to face sessions on Fridays only. Special provisions have been made for the St Martin Primary School, which has a population of more than 355 students, following discussions with the principal,” Skerrit noted.

At the secondary level, students from each form will attend face to face sessions one day per week from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. The following schedule will apply: Form 5 on Mondays, Form 4 on Tuesdays, Form 3 on Wednesdays, Form 2 on Thursdays, and Form 1 on Fridays. In the case of the Dominica Grammar School and the Goodwill Secondary School, the Goodwill Secondary will also operate a morning shift, as the Dominica Grammar school permits for such accommodation.

The prime minister added that the ministry of education has prepared a detailed operational manual for the blended education programme as well as guidelines for the safe operations of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines reinforce the safety and hygiene protocols as well as procedures for social distancing, temperature checks and the cleaning of surfaces.

He then commended the ministry of education for the work that they have done during the pandemic.

“The protocols and guidelines will be made available to the public, and an announcement of a firm date for the resumption of face to face classes, on a phased basis, will be made shortly. I commend the officials of the ministry of education for their hard work on this, and certainly for their efforts over the past two years, which guaranteed the continued learning of our children, online and in person. These proposals will allow us to assess and evaluate the implementation in order to make a determination for a total return to face to face learning,” Skerrit added.

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