In order for anyone to enter the Turks and Caicos Islands, all travelers to the Turks and Caicos Islands must take a COVID 19 PCR test prior to arrival. This test must be negative and this applies to everyone including returning residents. I believe the testing requirement should exclude returning residents.
In this article, a returning resident refers to a Turks and Caicos Islander living in TCI, a British Overseas Territory Citizen residing in TCI, an individual with a valid work permit who has been living here and individuals with a permanent residence certificate that live here.
This testing is creating a burden on the residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands. In the past many residents may opted for weekend getaways but now because of this requirement, residents will either not travel or have to extend their stay so that they can get a test. By extending their stay, they will incur additional expenses in accommodation and of course the test itself. Many residents missed out on opportunities of seeing their children going away to Universities and graduating from universities because of these same requirements. Some residents can only afford a weekend trip.
It is very difficult finding a test to get results within days. Some cities do not even allow testing unless you exhibit symptoms of COVID 19. Some people have difficulties getting testing results within 5 days so imagine travelling for a weekend. There are some facilities in the USA that charge a higher rate for non-residents of the USA as high as $400 per person.
Returning residents should be allowed to enter the country without having to undergo a COVID 19 PCR test abroad unless this is a work permit holder who is arriving to the islands for the first time. If these individuals travel abroad, they should be allow to take a test upon arrival. We should engage the private labs to meet these individuals at the airport and take a test there and results will be provided to these individuals within 24 hours. While these individuals are waiting they can be place in resort for one night. If they are tested negative, then they can be released and of course if they are tested positive, they will be quarantine.
Another recommendation is that COVID testing abroad should only be requested if the returning resident travel days are longer than a week. If the returning resident’s travel days are only for the weekend, the resident should be tested when the resident returns.
Another possible recommendation is for those residents that want to go away for the weekend, allow them to take the test on island before they leave the island so that residents and the Ministry would know their status and when they return they can take another test upon arrival to the island to determine whether or not they contracted the virus while away for the week.
It takes just the stroke of a pen to change the policy. This current policy is creating a financial burden and inconvenience to the residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Some residents just want to get away for the weekend as a breath of fresh air but this current policy is restricting them.
I know there is a concern that we do not want persons that are positive with COVID 19 to enter the country, however, someone can be positive after getting a negative test and still enter the country. Therefore, we should lift this requirement off for returning residents and test them when they return.