BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday March 20, 2020 – Prime Minister Mia Mottley has given strict instructions that no shore leave will be granted to persons on board cruise ships that are homeporting in Barbados.
She made the disclosure during a press briefing yesterday, when she revealed an additional three persons had tested positive for COVID-19, including a crew member in his 30s. This brings the total cases on the island to five.
Mottley explained that the cruise ship worker had never been to Barbados and his vessel had requested the test.
The crew member is now in isolation on the ship.
Barbados is the testing site for cruise ships that are homeporting in the Bridgetown Port. Under the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2007, Barbados is obligated to render medical care to anyone who becomes ill on board a cruise ship which homeports here. Crew members suspected of having COVID-19 on those vessels remain isolated onboard the ship and their samples are taken and tested at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory, once a formal request is made.
Mottley said Barbados had denied another ship’s request to test approximately six cases last week.
“We refused them because we did not believe that we had the capacity because we had not yet stood up our Defence Force Field Hospital. We only had the limited beds at Enmore at the time, and we believe that it was too many for us to take at once,” she said.
The Prime Minister stressed that the island must continue to meet its obligations as a homeporting destination, pointing out that numerous crew members on ships docked in the Bridgetown Port were due to disembark and return home via air.
“We will continue to facilitate the persons who are disembarking the ships to go to the Grantley Adams International Airport only, in order to be able to take their flights. I’ve been advised by the port that the last flight for those persons will leave on Sunday (March 22), and with respect to the rest who remain as crew, there will be no shore leave. We have an obligation to these ships. These ships call Barbados home; there is a legal, contractual, moral, ethical and humanitarian obligation that we have,” Mottley said.
In addition to facilitating crew members returning to their homelands, she outlined that many of the ships were also in Barbados for provisioning and fuel.
“They have to be able to feed their crew; they have to be able to provide fuel, and they have to be able to provide water….I know that this is difficult for some people to hear, but you can’t have the benefits and not also the responsibility. And the reality is that we have had the benefits of homeporting now for in excess of 15 years; and regrettably, this is now the obligation that we have to carry out, with respect to the provisioning. None of us would feel good if the ship runs out of fuel or water mid-ocean in circumstances where we had an obligation to them because of being a homeport,” she underscored.
The Prime Minister also stated that from Sunday, people arriving from the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe would be quarantined for 14 days.
This is in addition to travellers who would have been to Iran, China, South Korea and Italy, which were already on the quarantine list.
Barbadian residents will be placed in self-quarantine if they are deemed by health authorities to be at low-risk for COVID-19, while all others will be quarantined at a facility.
Prime Minister Mottley further disclosed there will be a significant reduction in commercial air flights to Barbados. American Airlines will cease flying to Barbados next week until early May; West Jet will end its service to the island on Saturday; and Air Canada is expected to finish operations within 10 days.