RETURNING nationals and residents began paying for their mandatory quarantine 14 days stay on Wednesday as the Government of Saint Lucia moves to update its quarantine policy and support plan for anyone entering the country.
Talk of returning nationals having to pay for their 14-day stay at a government operated quarantine facility have been circulating on all media platforms for days with members of government’s executive branch trying to make a case for the new measure.
The new measure has been roundly criticised both on new and old media with many Saint Lucians deeming the measure insensitive bearing in mind the financial burden some returning nationals are under as a result of COVID-19.
The government however, has pushed forward with the measure, claiming that to date its expenditure for the national COVID-19 response tallies over $10 million.
In a released issued Wednesday government notes it would continue to cater to, and cushion the needs of returning nationals, (however) at this juncture it is also prudent for government to focus on other critical areas in continued preparation for any uncertainties with the ongoing pandemic. The government announced that with the continued responsible phased reopening approach of the travel sector, effective daily fees associated with the mandatory quarantine period outlined for returning nationals and residents at state operated quarantine facilities will be the responsibility of the traveller.
According to the government, the daily fees cover the cost for all amenities including a bed and bathroom, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, three meals per day, toiletries, and bottled water. Single occupancy USD $95.00, Double occupancy USD $165.00, Triple occupancy USD $240.00. Double and triple occupancy applies to families within the same unit.
According to the government, applications for exemption of payment can be accessed on www.stlucia.org/covid-19. Exemptions would be granted to students returning home within three months of completion of studies, and to persons who have travelled for medical care. The Government will also consider dire socio-economic and other related circumstances including the loss of immediate family members (mother, father, brother sister, son, daughter, grandparents) and the forced repatriation of nationals. Supporting documents must accompany all applications.
“During the quarantine period, all returning nationals will be swabbed for COVID-19 testing on the seventh day. Those who have received a negative PCR result and meet the criteria to thereafter be quarantined at home as determined by the Health Authorities, would be granted permission to do so with the wearing of an Amber Solution watch and a BioIntelliSense sticker at a one-time cost of EC$260.00. The Amber Solution watch will be rented for the period and will be mapped to the individual(s) residential perimeters. The BioIntelliSense sticker is for a one-time use and will also monitor vital signs,” the government said in its release.
“Being mindful that the State regulated quarantine period is 14 days, those who do not meet the requirements to leave State Quarantine will need to ensure their payment for accommodation is made for the full 14 days,” noted the government, adding that anyone testing positive for COVID-19 will be immediately transferred to the Respiratory Hospital for treatment and care.
The 14-day home quarantine will apply strictly to minors, persons with health conditions and those with specific conditions. Applications can be accessed online at www.stlucia.org/covid-19. Permission will be granted by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer after careful review of all applications. These individuals will also be required to wear the electronic monitoring devices at the abovementioned cost.
Returning nationals from all international jurisdictions must note the following:
- Check with the airlines for flight schedules.
- Secure your reservation and facilitate payment for accommodation at a Government Operated Public Health Facility by accessing the booking portal located on www.stlucia.org/covid-19. All fees must be paid directly to the Quarantine Facility.
- If you have applied for quarantine payment exemption, please await confirmation of approval from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer. A 7-day wait period is necessary to facilitate applications.
- Once State Quarantine arrangements have been confirmed, prefill the Travel Registration from located on www.stlucia.org/covid-19. You must do so no less than 3 days prior to travel. Print and travel with the Authorized Travel Registration.Obtain and upload a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Negative COVID-19 Test within 7 days of Travel into Saint Lucia. Please ensure that the result indicates PCR. You must Travel with a Copy of your Result.
- Upon arrival into Saint Lucia, the wearing of a mask is mandatory.
- All arriving persons will be screened at the Port of Entry and assessed for any signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
- After advancing to immigration and customs, you will be guided to the designated Government Operated Transportation for transfer to the Public Health Facility.
- At the Public Health Facility, you will be screened daily by Healthcare Professionals. You are permitted to receive items from friends and family. However, you are not permitted to deliver items to anyone until your full 14-day quarantine period has come to an end.
According to the government from March 2020, its COVID-19 response efforts established quarantine facilities at five local hotels and ensured over a four-month period the safe repatriation and accommodation of 844 Saint Lucian nationals.
Further, it has accommodated a total of 2,261 individuals at its Public Health Facilities, including repeat travellers, refurbished the Victoria Hospital into a Respiratory Hospital, increased marine policing operations, hosted a Cuban Medical Brigade, established and operate respiratory clinics and took care of daily transportation to quarantine sites, COVID-19 testing requirements, Personal Protective Equipment and other key areas.