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The imperative of airport testing of travellers

CASTRIES, St Lucia — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) heads of government have seen the remarks made by the head of the London Heathrow Airport September 29, 2020 warning that the UK Aviation could suffer the same fate as London Docks if air travel cannot resume in volume before a COVID vaccine is found.

John Holland-Kaye, London Heathrow chief executive officer, in a conversation with Travel Weekly warned of a catastrophe for UK Aviation, including the potential demise of British Airways, if air travel is not resumed. His recommendation and solution are for the consideration of testing at the UK airports to ensure that all travelers are COVID free and to allow such persons freedom to travel.

While the OECS Authority is concerned about the prediction, we are heartened by the call which strengthens our own efforts internationally in seeking the establishment of PCR testing facilities at airports to ensure that every traveler is tested, and only persons who are deemed to be COVID-free will be allowed to board and travel. We have been lobbying the governments of our major tourism source markets as well as the major airlines with flights to the Caribbean to work with us in the establishment of a rigorous testing regime to facilitate the reopening of safe air travel to the Caribbean.

Discussions with an international company should be concluded this week and we expect that this will result in the establishment of PCR testing facilities at all source airports as well as cruise and ferry ports to the Caribbean. This will ensure that only travelers who are COVID-free are allowed to board and will remove the need for quarantine on arrival.  We are seeking to move quickly to facilitate safer travel for the tourism high season in October.

The Anglophone Caribbean has had a strong record of effective management of the pandemic to date with among the lowest infection rates in the world and are seeking to address the severe economic contraction in our tourism-dependent economies while ensuring the protection of our people as well as our visitors.

The heads of government of the OECS are, therefore, issuing an urgent call to the governments and other stakeholders of the tourism source markets to work with us in putting this solution in place and to demonstrate the viability of this approach to the safe restoration of the travel and tourism industry.



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