In order to welcome cruise lines and other visitors, the Government of Montserrat will require that service providers show proof of being vaccinated. At the same time, quarantine lengths for vaccinated persons will be 10 days instead of the current 14.
These were the new measures announced by Premier Joseph Farrell and his Minister of Health Charles Kirnon on Friday morning.
Premier Farrell said the pandemic has hit the island hard and they are also thankful that the crisis has not been worse. Montserrat has had 20 positive cases and one death. The government leader, who also has responsibility for tourism, said it was important to restore confidence for people outside who want to come and live or visit. He added that his government’s intent was to ensure that this confidence is restored.
“The only effective tool we have at this moment is a vaccine. There’s no getting away from it,” stated Premier Farrell. The goal he added, was to give residents the ability to eventually move about with no need to wear masks and to gather in unlimited numbers. “We can only do it with your help.”
To this end, the Minister of Health said the government will continue with its information campaign to encourage residents to be vaccinated. There are 900 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which will expire May 31. Another 2000 doses are viable until July.
Minister Kirnon said that vaccinated persons arriving on island will need to show a negative PCR test and will only be given a 10-day quarantine. They will be retested at the end of quarantine.
Anyone coming in without being vaccinated are still subject to a 14-day quarantine, must show negative PCR test on arrival, be tested at the port of entry and also following the quarantine period. Frontline workers, including public servants are being encouraged to be vaccinated.
Those who choose not to, will be tested fortnightly.
As the tourism sector has been calling for the government to establish a reopening timeline, the premier said that the cruise sector has committed to only travelling with vaccinated passengers. They are asking for the people who will service their clients show proof of vaccination.
Taxi drivers, tour guides and restaurant workers are encouraged to be vaccinated. A certification of this will be given to taxi drivers, which will allow them to be included in the services offered to the cruise vessels. No unvaccinated providers will be used to carry visitors. All of the visitor sites must also show that their workers have been vaccinated.
Minister Kirnon also stated that residents should be aware off the serious possibility of being rejected from entry to other countries for medivacs. He shared that in 2020, there were delays in transferring emergency patients because the local hospitals were requiring proof that the nurses and patients were negative for COVID-19. This was also the case recently with a medivac case to Martinique.
“Hospitals abroad are insisting on a negative PCR test,” Kirnon added. “Nothing Montserrat can do to get them to change their mind. Save yourself and your time.”
The minister said he fully expects that the proof of vaccine requirement will be mandatory going forward for both normal and emergency travel.