As the Turks and Caicos Islands and the world at large contends with the COVID-19 pandemic, Cabinet has taken the difficult, yet necessary, step to enact Emergency Powers which will result in the closure of our air and sea borders to the international traveling public for a period of 21 days as of 24 March 2020. This course of action will no doubt have a tremendous impact on our tourism and hospitality industry, however, is essential to flatten the curve by reducing the risk and exposure of the virus and to protect our residents and visitors.
Many of our visitors have returned to TCI year after year and have become a part of our extended family. While we bid farewell for now, I encourage each of you not to cancel your vacation but rather postpone to a later date. The Turks and Caicos Islands has shown in the past that our tourism industry is resilient and we will be ready to serve you with the same quality of hospitality once we resume normal operations. On behalf of the people of the Turks & Caicos Islands, thank you for visiting our ‘Beautiful by Nature’ destination.
The Ministry of Tourism through the Tourist Board commits to keeping our travel partners advised of developments regarding COVID-19 and its impact on the destination. Since the beginning of the outbreak, our team has made efforts to personally engage key partners to ensure that the flow of information between all parties is efficient. We understand that your companies will no doubt be experiencing some adverse effects and as a result will implement changes in the face of the unprecedented nature of this virus. We will continue to work collaboratively with the Ministry of Health, the lead agency tasked with monitoring the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to provide you with the most up to date information.
The Ministry of Tourism held a Stakeholder meeting with hoteliers, tour operators and public service drivers recently to address the anticipated fallout from COVID-19 and how the Government plans to address the foreseen issues. At that meeting, I reaffirmed my commitment to do all that I can to protect the industry and advised that the Government is exploring various ways to assist local businesses during this crucial time. While our primary focus is mitigating the COVID-19 crisis, we are simultaneously looking into the long term effects on the industry and the economic impact. We understand that over the next few days you will have to make difficult decisions regarding your operation and those decisions will not only affect your employees but also the sustainability of your business. Our team will be reaching out to you over the next few days to gather the necessary data to assist the Government in exploring the best possible way to assist you as we navigate through these unprecedented pandemic.
A nation-wide education campaign is underway by the Ministry of Health to remind residents and visitors of basic hygiene practices that can be used to prevent the spread of the virus including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick and do not travel.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Staying home when you are sick is recommended every flu season, but especially important now.