With 18 recoveries and zero active cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Prime Minister of St Lucia Allen Chastanet has announced that the island will reopen its international borders for non-essential travel, including tourists, as of Thursday, June 4.
Chastanet, who was giving an update on the St Lucian economy and the way forward on Saturday (May 16), said that while the country reopens for tourists, he doesn’t expect a huge influx of visitors considering respective efforts around the world to contain further spread of COVID-19.
“It’s a day we had envisioned…we expect that by June 4th, Saint [Lucia’s] international borders will be open. Sadly, not many countries are ready to open up their borders. So, just because we’ve opened, I’m not expecting a rush of people to come in,” he said.
“Our international border is a critical component of our economic recovery. The [border] is substantially more complicated because it requires the participation and support of other countries,” Chastanet added.
Hotels and other tourist attractions will be allowed to operate come June 4, however, the same rules of protocol adherence stipulated for businesses that have been allowed to reopen will be in effect. Those businesses must also submit their protocols for approval by the Ministry of Tourism, in conjunction with Ministry of Health and local police.
The island is now at the transition phase of its public health management strategy of the coronavirus, Chastanet explained, adding that domestically the country is ready to coexist with the new disease.
The St Lucian PM continued that he felt it was important to let the world know that the island is ready.
Chastanet hinted at the growing likelihood of travel among member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as a first step in the gradual reopening of the lucrative tourism sector.
CARICOM announced earlier in May detailed plans to hopefully open borders solely for intra-regional travel in time for early June – opting to establish a coordinated policy on the reopening of borders in the region.
“I’m very proud of the work St Lucia has initiated, and more importantly, we’re working with our brothers and sisters at the OECS level and now at CARICOM level to establish a common policy towards opening up our international borders,” he said.
“It’s an important milestone to achieve because it makes it easier for the airlines coming in. [So], if we have 14 countries in the Caribbean that have a common position, then it makes it easier for us [to ensure] that those standards are adhered to. I’m very grateful to all the Prime Ministers of CARICOM to agree that we share and come up with a common policy. We are working towards that initiative,” Chatstanet added.