Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr the Honourable Timothy Harris, announced unemployed people will benefit from further assistance from the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board in September.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -– During a two-week period, many things were considered and deliberated before the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line was given the greenlight for safe harbour for two of its vessels — Rhapsody of the Seas and Vision of the Seas, according to Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris.

The first vessel, Rhapsody of the Seas was scheduled to dock at Port Zante today; however, its arrival was delayed as health experts consider additional information. The Vision of the Seas is expected to arrive Aug. 24.

“We looked at the pros and cons and sought the input of the COVID-19 Task Force,” said Hon. Dr. Harris. “They advised it would be safe after certain protocols were put in place.

“Our Task Force has never given us any bad advice. They have been right on everything, the lockdown, the opening of our beaches, the wearing of masks, the reopening of our factories and our early childhood centres and reducing the curfew. I know we can and should trust their judgement.

The prime minister noted that the experts advised that the risk associated with granting safe harbouring for the two vessels is very low.

In outlining the reasons why, Prime Minister Harris said the crews of both vessels were all required to have a negative RT- PCR COVID-19 test before boarding from their home countries; they were quarantined on the ship under the supervision of the ship’s doctor for 14-days before assuming duties and physically interacting with the rest of the crew, and that the review of the health records of all crew members show they are in good health.

“Crew members will be tested with the gold standard RT-PCR COVID-19 test upon docking in our port,” said Dr. Harris. “This is compulsory. They will all be quarantined on-board the ship for a minimum of 14-days after arriving in our port.

“Again this is a standard safeguard to protect you my people,” he said. “We meant it when we said from the very beginning that your safety and security and that of our beloved country of St. Kitts and Nevis are my main priority. Your welfare, your progress, your concerns are always on my mind.”

The crew members will all be retested at the end of 14-days and only released from quarantine if they all test negative. It is only after the return of a negative RT-PCR test on day one and day-14 that they will be allowed to disembark the vessels.

Prime Minister Harris indicated that these protocols are “similar to the ones used for the safe repatriation of the 124 international students studying at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and all our nationals and residents who returned home thus far.”

Moreover, security will be in place at the port to enforce the quarantine requirements.

Cognizant of the need to generate economic activity in the country while minimizing the health risk to the citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Harris said this decision to provide safe harbour for the vessels will not make a significant impact now “but in the medium term we will benefit.”