St Lucia gone fishing: COVID-19 bubble kaput

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – It is ureal the infatuation of Saint Lucia’s claim as the best islands in the region to manage COVID-19, even popularizing the hashtag #bestCMOever and #IstandwiththeCMO – went fishing for US, UK and Canadian visitors, have cost the island more pain and suffering than economic prosperity and happiness.

The island premier tourist market, the UK, announced COVID-19 lock-down, from November 5 until December 2.

The charade to revoke Saint Lucian fisherfolk licences, on the pretext of back door COVID-19 upsurge is invalid. From a national intelligence viewpoint, this confirms the inefficiency of the security apparatus and has exposed the marine unit, immigration, custom, etc., thus leading to a larger systemic issue.

And while the government is pre-disposed with the preferred economic model of direct awards – the distinction of busting the Caribbean COVID-19 bubble is unacceptable, for a government that professed to excellence, “building a new Saint Lucia”.

“CARICOM countries are opting out of a ‘travel bubble’, agreed last month, as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in territories previously identified as being a part of that arrangement,” according to the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne “… Saint Lucia within the last week I am told would have had over 34 new cases of COVID. So it’s evident that Saint Lucia now has community spread and what that has done is now forced a change within the travel arrangement in CARICOM. So, whereas a few weeks ago we agreed on a CARICOM travel bubble, the bubble has burst,” he said, speaking on Pointe FM in Antigua and Barbuda on Saturday, October 31.

“Tuesday, November 3, 2020, the ministry of health (MOH) received confirmation of an additional three cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of cases diagnosed in the country to date to 97.”

Prime minister Allen Chastanet limited capacity to focus and deal with multiple issues facing Saint Lucia seem pre-disposed and misdirect, against the backdrop of unfavourable polling data in the fifth year of his term, suggested that the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) is unsure of its direction.

“I continue to be very disappointed in the opposition. I think that the opposition needs to really regather itself and figure out where it wants to go because one day they want to shut down the country, the next day they want me to open up the country. One day they’re concerned about this, the next day they’re concerned about something completely opposite,” the confused Chastanet declared.

According to a press release [source] Saint Lucia Tourism Authority:

“We also note the number of cases in sister countries and will ensure that pretesting remains an entry requirement along with the prefilling of the travel registration form.

“Grenada has also opted out of the CARICOM bubble, Saint Lucia’s approved bubble has reduced significantly over the last few months because of community spread noted in other islands. And so, it continues to be a fluid situation and a health crisis and action taken by anyone jurisdiction is necessary to safeguard a population. We are however pleased to report that to date the country has had zero deaths.”

The second wave of COVID-19 has hit European and North American countries hard. Saint Lucia’s source markets for tourism are no exception, reporting a resurgence in the coronavirus infections, deaths and lockdown.

Perhaps unexpectedly the prime minister of Saint Lucia, said:

“So we do have an excess amount of room capacity and the UK was going to fill that quite significantly, the demand out of the UK was doing very well,” Chastanet said. “So we are going to shift our efforts as quickly as possible to the US market that continues to remain open,  despite the fact that the United States continues to record a high number of COVID-19 cases, the pre-testing protocols ahead of entry into Saint Lucia have been successful.”

“We have a lot of confidence in what we are doing and the ability to coexist with those markets, we had discussions with British Airways and American Airlines both indicated that they did tests projects, one to Hawaii on American and the other one to Hong Kong with British Airways, where persons were required to be pre-tested before they travel and they saw tremendous success with those programs.”

And aside from prime minister Chastanet ‘aka’ Tropical Trump lovefest with the Republican Party leader and platform, on the eve of the US election responded in the negative when asked by local media, whether he had a preference. “No. We work with everyone. We will work with whichever administration wins the election,” he explained. “Saint Lucia has a very good relationship with America and we – like everybody else, are waiting to see what’s going to happen … you have two very different ideologies at play here and we wait to see what the decision of the public of America is going to be,” prime minister Chastanet said.

Meanwhile, the daily exploits of a misdirected administration that consistently exceed expectation – the minister for tourism Dominic Fedee, via Loop News Tuesday, said: “If the [US] government changes, I don’t want to speculate, then there’s a likelihood that the Democrats if they assume office, could go into a lockdown, and I think that would be good for everyone, for the US, our main market, to have a temporary lockdown, close off from the world, deal with the public health situation and come back cleaner and stronger. I think that is going to help the long-term economic recovery of the Caribbean.”

The unspoken message in an era of so much uncertainty COVID-19 and US post-election, the government need to acknowledge and embrace the limitations, “the country is broke”.

Saint Lucia must aim to do better, with a government capable of planning towards national co-operation and participation, instead, of so-called leaders making difficult times even more complicated – busting the bubble.

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