The following statement was made by Mr. Oral Brandy, General Manager of the Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority [NASPA] on March 27 regarding measures put in place at all ports in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic and on March 25th, 2020, the federation recorded two cases of COVID-19. There is no doubt that the risk of spreading this virus remains very high, and every safety measure put forward by the Task Force with the constant advice from the professionals at the Ministry of Health must be followed.
The threat to our physical, social and economic well-being is real and demands that we, as a port authority, and other border control agencies put measures in place to combat the spread of this virus.
Effective Wednesday March 25th at 11:59 p.m., the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, [Doctor the] Hon. Timothy Harris and our Premier, Hon. Mark Brantley, announced the temporary closure of our borders to commercial passenger vessels at both air and seaports except for emergencies or medical purposes.
We have complied with the temporary closure and this new initiative to secure our ports means that only essential aircrafts and ships carrying cargo will be allowed to use these facilities. Currently, at the Vance W. Amory International Airport the cargo carriers are Federal Express, DHL and Coastal Air. Any other aircraft transporting cargo to or from our airport will be able to do so with prior approval.
At our main cargo port at Long Point, the Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority requires all cargo vessel owners, operators and agents to take note and seek to adhere to the following in light to the Covid-19 pandemic:
(1) The vessel operator, crew and agent must strictly observe and follow the usual Customs, Security and Health procedures already in place which includes:
(a) At least 24 hours notice of the vessel’s arrival and the last port visited.
(b) The presentation of the required documents by the agent to the various agencies prior to the boat’s arrival. This should include information on anyone becoming ill while en-route to Nevis.
(c) No loading, unloading or exchanges between vessel crew and shore men before the necessary inspection and documents have been processed.
(2) Information must be submitted referencing which Covid-19 affected countries the crew members have visited within the last 14 days.
(3) No crew on board the vessel will be allowed entrance to the port’s compound unless it is absolutely necessary. Only an authorized management personnel of the port in collaboration with the designated officials from the Health Department will be able to grant permission.
(4) Communication between crew and port staff must be done by VHF radio, telephone or through the local agent.
(5) Social or physical distancing will be done or enforced at the warehouse.
(6) Only a limited number of persons clearing cargo will be allowed in the warehouse at any given time.
In addition, all handlers of cargo, being vessel crew, shore men and employees must use the sanitary procedures made available at the port before conducting any business.
In the meantime, there will be movement of cargo between St. Kitts and Nevis.
With regard to the ferries, water taxis and inter-island passenger movement, the NASPA is very aware of the potential risk involved in the context of physical distancing and mass gathering on board these vessels. While discussions are still ongoing at the ports and federal government level, we strongly urge citizens to use our facilities only when it is absolutely essential or necessary.
We are very pleased to report that one ferry operator has already suspended operation and others have indicated their intention to follow suit.
In an effort to keep our employees and our general public safe, and in light of social distancing, NASPA has already sent on vacation leave a number of workers for the next few weeks. The option of working from home for our staff is also under consideration where practicable.
At NASPA, we are committed to keeping our staff, their families and the community on a whole safe during this time, and have implemented a series of procedures at our various ports to ensure everyone’s safety, guided by our health care professionals at the Ministry of Health.
Please continue to practice safety procedures at home and throughout the community and remain informed about the virus through the Ministry of Health’s Health Promotion Unit, or by visiting the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]] and WHO websites.
Help us keep you and our port officials safe. Practice social distancing as much as you can.