On August 12, 2021, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government implemented some additional measures in managing the impact of COVID 19. Among those changes is that all visitors to the Turks and Caicos Islands must be vaccinated effective September 1st 2021. Another change is that all returning unvaccinated residents that are tested negative along with the household must be in quarantine for 7 days. For this article, I will focused on these two aforementioned points.
I know that there is a lot of concern that our tourism industry may be adversely impacted but personally I don’t think that our tourism industry will be negatively impacted. While there will be some cancellations, the overall impact will be minimal given that the majority of tourists (based on my research) that have been visiting the Turks and Caicos were vaccinated. It is interesting that some of the individuals who are against this new policy supported the Government’s policy that all work permit holders must be vaccinated. I also don’t comprehend the fact that if the Government believes that vaccination is the key to combat the spread of COVID 19, then why the Government is not making it mandatory for the citizens to become vaccinated. Is it because the work permit holders and the tourists cannot vote?
I understand that due to increase in COVID 19 cases and the fact that the tourists are contributing to more than 70% of the positive cases, the Government has to make unpopular decisions, however Governments must make sure that whatever decisions they make, the approach should be sensible and well thought-out. This article will the address the pros and cons of the most recent policies.
Despite our opinions about whether we should take the vaccine or not, the fact that our country is only allowing vaccinated people to the country sends a positive message to the tourism industry. I am in contact with tourists on a daily basis and one of the reasons they come here is because they are vaccinated and a high percentage of TCI’s population is vaccinated. Therefore, I believe more tourists will visit the Turks and Caicos Islands and our industry will not be highly impacted.
The truth is most people do not want to contract the virus and it is believed by most medical practitioners that the best way to alleviate the spread of COVID 19 is to become vaccinated. Of course, there are some medical practitioners that believe otherwise.
Another pro is that given that some airlines such as American Airlines has significantly reduced their flights to TCI from August and so it looks like the beginning of the slow season and so the number of visitors arriving to the islands will not be the same as the previous months anyway.
Even though September is normally a slow month, however, many people are still travelling because they were tired of being locked down in their homes as a result of COVID 19. The unvaccinated individuals would be forced to cancel their flights and hotel accommodations because the two weeks’ notice that our Government provided is inadequate time for individuals to get vaccinated. If they were to take their first shot this week, they will still need another 2 to 3 weeks before they can take their second shot and based on the words of the Minister of Health, a fully vaccinated person means two shots of the vaccine plus an additional 14 days therefore September 1st won’t work. I recommend that the Government changes its effective day to October 1st or November 1st.
Another con is that take the individuals that took the J&J’s Covid 19 Vaccine only requires one shot but the minister stated that fully vaccinated means two shots. Is TCI not accepting individuals with J&J’s COVID 19 vaccine?
Being vaccinated does not mean that you will not get the virus. There have been cases whereby vaccinated individuals contracted the virus. Therefore vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can get the virus even though it is believed that if you are vaccinated, your chances of getting the vaccine are not the same as those that are unvaccinated.
Given that our country is fully open for business, I don’t think that returning unvaccinated residents that tested negative should be in quarantine for 7 days. This will impact the financial condition of these individuals if they are employed. If an individual and their entire household are in quarantine, then how will they be able to earn their income.
If returning unvaccinated residents have to be in quarantine and tested often, then what about unvaccinated residents who did not travel. They can also be asymptomatic.
I know Governments must ensure that they protect their citizens and if the vaccine is the way to go, then why are we only making it mandatory for visitors and work permit holders.
I don’t who is providing advice to the Government but whatever approach a Govt. takes must be balanced and well thought out. Give more notice to our customers and don’t discriminate when it comes to this vaccine even though I still believe it should be the individual’s choice to take the vaccine or not.
Finally I encourage people to get their facts about the tourism industry before making statements that our industry will be adversely impacted. Check out all the resorts and they will tell you that the majority of tourists coming are vaccinated.