BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Citing a number of health concerns to its citizens and residents, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has announced its withdrawal from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Travel Bubble arrangement, which was introduced as a mechanism to facilitate low risk intra-regional travel during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.
Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris made the announcement on the November 3 evening edition of Leadership Matters, saying, “Having discussed this matter at length [November 2] with the Cabinet and our National COVID-19 Task Force and arriving at a consensus, I have today advised the Secretary General of the CARICOM Secretariat, Ambassador Irwin Larocque that St Kitts and Nevis has, in our national interest, albeit for health reasons withdrawn from the bubble effective immediately. I have also requested our Chief Medical Officer to advise the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) of our decision.”
The honourable prime minister presented a number of reasons behind the St. Kitts and Nevis Government’s decision, noting that such arrangements with countries with higher risk assessments would expose citizens and residents to elevated health risks.
“Since the announcement of the formation of the CARICOM Bubble, we have seen a change in the risk level of a number of countries within the bubble with Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia and Barbados experiencing a resurgence of new cases,” said Dr. Harris. “We have taken note of reports about actual or potential community spread in some member states.”
The prime minister further noted that the Government is concerned that the travel entry requirements are also not uniformed, as requested by the Caribbean Public Health Agency, with a number of member countries having less stringent requirements than those implemented in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“We cannot therefore as a nation with a very low risk category assessment enter a common space or ‘Bubble’ with countries at a higher risk level because we would be exposing our people to elevated health risks. Similarly it will be unwise given our low risk status to participate in a bubble with others with community spread,” Prime Minister Harris added.
As a result, all travellers from CARICOM countries now have to undergo the 14-day mandatory quarantine requirement and present a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The 14-day quarantine is an international best practice taking into account the incubation period of the novel coronavirus. It is the best and safest standard and clearly is in sync with our strategy to open up while keeping risks to our population at a very low level. In other words, the entry requirements for CARICOM nationals will be the same as those for international travellers,” the prime minister said.
Prime Minister Harris said the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will continue to monitor the regional situation and look for ways in which it can best facilitate CARICOM nationals.