Dual-island nation St. Kitts and Nevis is the latest Caribbean country to close its borders in an attempt to stem the COVID-19 virus’ spread. Beginning at 11:59 p.m. on March 25, all commercial flights to the nation will be banned through April 7, said government officials in a statement.
St. Kitts and Nevis officials have further stipulated “nationals and residents overseas who cannot return by the deadline will need to remain offshore until the border closing is lifted.” The county currently reports no confirmed coronavirus cases.
The Caribbean nation is allowing medevac and medical emergency flights “should the need arise.” Also permitted are international air and sea cargo shipments to the islands “in order to maintain connectivity that enables the Federation to import needed commodities such as food, fuel, medical supplies and equipment.”
“Testing is being done, and thus far we are grateful that ale results obtained have been negative,” said Mark Brantley, St. Kitts’ minister of foreign affairs and aviation and Nevis’ premier, in a March 19 address to the country. “However while we pray that continues, we continue to prepare for the real possibility that we may develop cases here in Nevis and in the wider federation,” he said.
“As such, my government continues to take every prudent measure on the advice of the chief medical officer and the federal task force, as well as the head of our local effort, Dr. Judy Nesbit.”
Officials are advising travelers scheduled to visit the country in the coming weeks to “contact their travel advisor, travel provider, hotel and/or airline for information about fees and policies for rescheduling or canceling trips.”
As in other tourism-reliant Caribbean destinations, the border closure will have a profound impact on the St. Kitts and Nevis economy. The island had already suffered the impact of canceled bookings at its signature luxury resort, the Four Seasons Nevis, earlier this month as the virus began its global spread.
In a Tweet, Brantley said the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank pledged to provide loan relief for Nevis commercial customers, including “no loan payments for six months and no late charges or fees.”
“We look forward to welcoming everyone to our twin-island destination once again when this time of uncertainty is behind us,” the government statement reads. “In the meantime, we ask all persons to stay informed about the latest news and developments relating to COVID-19 and to take all recommended precautions including preventative actions to stem the spread of the virus, including frequent handwashing and social distancing.”
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