By Admin. Updated 1:11 p.m. Friday, December 25, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
While many Vincentians are enjoying Christmas, some who had plans to enter the country soon have been thrown into a state of confusion over the government’s newly imposed 10-day mandatory hotel quarantine.
Previously, the government had split the mandatory 14-day quarantine period into two parts. The first part was a five-day hotel quarantine and the second part – a 9-day home quarantine.
Without forewarning, a 10-Day mandatory hotel quarantine was recently imposed for persons entering St. Vincent and the Grenadines from countries where the COVID-19 situation is considered high-risk.
The sudden move has led to forced hotel cancellations, financial strain, and uncertainty as to where to stay on arrival in one’s home country due to the limited number of health approved accommodations for quarantine and those deemed affordable (USD $50 per night and below).
One individual who asked to remain anonymous told ONE NEWS SVG that they are now between a rock and a hard place as they cannot afford to come home but they also cannot stay in the country they visited.
A couple who also asked not to be named says they are considering bringing legal action against the government as they feel the sudden move from a 5-Day hotel quarantine to a 10-Day quarantine is impinging upon their rights to return home.
The couple told ONE NEWS SVG that under the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the government cannot impede access to nationals to return home.
The individuals contend that the financial strain and psychological distress brought about by the sudden announcement of the 10-day mandatory hotel quarantine leave them in “no man’s land” as they “cannot afford the costs which will be USD $1200 on average” (EC$3,243), almost double the cost of a return ticket.
The Health Services Subcommittee/COVID-19 Taskforce of the Ministry of Health, however, is in a tough position.
Under the previous system, the ministry of health allowed a 5-day hotel quarantine and the remaining 9-days were done at home.
Some individuals, however, were doing the 5-days at the hotel and disregarding their quarantine order for the remaining 9-days at home, thus potentially putting the rest of the population at grave risk.
The most recent example of this was the report that a UK citizen broke his home quarantine order and was being sought after by the police on December 21, 2020. He was contacted on December 24, 2020.
This reality challenges a popular proposal by citizens to enable home quarantine for those with suitable places of aboard, as the monitoring mechanism would be much weaker than under a controlled hotel environment.
Still, persons are of the view that a balance need to be found for Vincentians who are not well-off but who have to return home to avoid overstaying time in a foreign country.
Such persons are those who had to travel for medical reasons or to catch up with family and friends, and other matters.
The balance between public health and nationals’ ability to return home without exuberant state-imposed expenses is yet to be struck.