Saturday 8 August, 2020

St Lucia opening up air travel but no commercial flights in June

George FL Charles Airport (file photo)

George FL Charles Airport (file photo)

Saint Lucia reopened its borders for air travel June 4, 2020, for the first time since its closure on March 23 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

According to a senior official within the Lucian Ministry of Tourism, Saint Lucia will not be receiving commercial flights in the first instance but instead will see chartered flights that will be repatriating Saint Lucian nationals.

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There was one Air Canada flight that came in today to pick up some Dominica nationals who used Saint Lucia as a hub to get to Canada as part of the Farm Workers Project.

"We will see the first set of flights in July which would give us time to navigate the testing requirements with the various jurisdictions and with the airlines because we do not want to compromise putting people on a flight, bringing them in and we compromise our locals. That's never our intention and it will never be our intention," the Tourism official said.

The decision formed part of mitigating efforts on the part of the government and health officials in flattening the curve.

Saint Lucia has been applauded by other Caribbean islands in its effort of containing and managing the pandemic.

The island has recorded nineteen COVID-19 cases to date, with 18 patients making a full recovery. The most recent case was recorded today.

With no cases on island for an extended period and no deaths recorded, Saint Lucia began to significantly ease its lockdowns, amid signs across the region and the world that countries were beginning to open their borders to regional and international travel.

Antigua and Barbuda was the first to do so regionally on Monday of this week, having established strict safety protocols to safeguard both visitors and locals.

Saint Lucia, having put similar protocols in place, opened its borders today for air travel.

A phased approach to the opening will be observed, with passengers having to present a negative COVID-19 certificate within 48 hours of boarding their flights and undergoing temperature checks upon arrival.

Visitors will also have to wear face masks and follow social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols at the various establishments which they will be residing at during their stay.

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