By: Demion McTair. Updated 2:51 a.m., Tuesday April 28, 2020. Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Three-hundred and twenty-nine (329) Vincentians working on cruise ships are scheduled to return home on April 30, as part Royal Caribbean’s Crew Repatriation programme amidst COVID-19, Searchlight Newspaper reported on April 19.
If all three-hundred and twenty-nine (329) sailors are to spend 14-days in quarantine when they return to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the cost would be EC $690,900 dollars.
If the returning sailors are all quarantined for 21-days, the cost would be EC $1, 036,350 dollars.
These figures, however, do not include Vincentians set to return from other cruise lines, oil rigs and other seafarer-related jobs.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had said on WEFM on April 26 that hoteliers have negotiated a fee of EC$150 per night, inclusive of three meals and that cruise lines should pay this fee for a quarantine period of 14 days.
There has been much debate, however, as to who should pay for the crew workers’ quarantine.
Some sailors have vehemently opposed the government’s position on the funding, arguing that the sailors have signed gateway-to-gateway contracts, that once they get on their soil (their home country), they are responsible for themselves.
Other sailors have signaled that they would refuse to cover the individual costs of the quarantine themselves, once they return home.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and public health requirements which must be met, nationals returning to the country must be quarantined.
It is argued that the large number of sailors returning warrants quarantine away from their respective families and in a hotel or guest house instead.
The issue comes at a time when the finances of governments around the Caribbean have dwindled due to the economic fallout brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.