What’s really behind the decision to keep our cruise port closed, but our borders open?

By Ed Forbes – Concerned Citizen of Grand Turk

Inquiring minds needs to know. Are we backed into a corner due to Carnival flexing their muscles again?

Regardless of the reason, citizens needs to know why there is an all out ban on cruise ships until January 1st, 2021.

The decision is having a far-reaching impact on the island of Grand Turk, let alone the government’s purse strings.

I also think the citizens of Grand Turk deserve more clarity on how the government plans to create jobs for the segment of population that is significantly impacted by this decision.

Although in Grand Turk, the government is one of the largest employers, some families are still struggling.

The segments of the population that is in the most dire straits are the taxi drivers, island tours, boat operators and the trickled down impact on small mom and pop businesses.

If the decision was based solely on minimizing the risk of COVID-19 infection, in my opinion it defies logic as the borders are open to international flights.

I understand the concerns that people’s lives could be at stake, but let’s face it, the virus is already here and we have got to learn how to adjust our lifestyle and live with it.

According to the recent CDC reports, the “no sail” order for cruise ships is only until September 30th, 2020.

In addition, they have also introduced stringent rules that will make cruise ships much safer than before this pandemic.

Cruise ships are required to develop comprehensive plans to prevent, detect, respond to, and contain COVID-19 on their cruise ships to protect the health and safety of both passengers and crew. This will limit the spread of any disease for countries they are embarking upon.

Why not put strict protocols in place the same way it’s being done for international flights with placing the burden on them?

These cruise passengers are only here for 5-6 hours, with most of them having limited interaction with the public at large.

At least they are not filling up restaurants, hotels, villas and Airbnb’s, which creates a greater exposure for transmission of the virus.

Albeit, I realize they can still pose a danger like transmission from passenger to vendor and vendor to passenger.

Nevertheless, there has to be a sensible and responsible approach to the covid economics, with some measure of balance between public safety and economic welfare.

We must also do our part by acting responsibly and adhering to government imposed protocols.

November and December are the start of the tourism peak season, so why January 1st?

What we must realize is these cruise ships plan months, if not years, in advance with sailing routes and bookings. So that means you can pretty much write off next season.

Now what? If the government’s plan is to create jobs through local contracts, the entire bidding process will need to be temporarily revamped, with focus on individually licensed businesses. If not, only a select few will benefit.

We are in a tough predicament my friends; but we must restore our strength and resolve.

Before policy decisions are made, and this applies to any government, there must be a long term strategic plan.

All options need to be weighed; both pros and cons, and if the plan is not working, then change the process.

While I realize there is no playbook available to address this madness, the benefits must outweigh the risks, as we can’t take a cookie cutter approach while being mindful that every Caribbean country is not the same.

What impact the decision will have on the people of this great country? Only time will tell!

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