Fully vaccinated travellers to St. Vincent and the Grenadines are no longer permitted to undergo their 48-hour quarantine at home.
“A new set of protocols are going to come in relation to fully vaccinated people and also unvaccinated persons,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on NBC Radio on Wednesday.
“And a big change is that — we have started already — this idea of allowing people to go into quarantine at home, we are going to discontinue that for a while, even though you are vaccinated,” Gonsalves said.
“Because, still if you are vaccinated, most countries you come from, you will just be doing two days’ quarantine in the hotel.”
He said that travellers from very high risk countries such as Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Ecuador, South Africa, Suriname, Colombia, Belize, Guyana, Panama, India, Mexico, Argentina, and Peru will have to quarantine for seven days or more.
“But otherwise, you come from high-risk countries or medium-risk countries, you will quarantine for the two days — the 48 hours — in an approved hotel.
“And those from low-risk countries with the vaccine — low-risk like Anguilla, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat — you would not have to quarantine at all, if you come with your negative test.”
The prime minister said that his government has been allowing vaccinated travellers to quarantine at home if all of the other occupants were vaccinated or if the traveller lived alone.
“But you are supposed to do that and give the information to the Health Service Sub-Committee of NEMO two weeks before,” he said, adding that some travellers send the information 36 or as little as 12 hours before they arrive in the country.
This, Gonsalves said, does not give the relevant authorities enough time to make the requisite checks.
“And what is worse, people are saying that their families are vaccinated, everybody in the house, and that is not so. So people have been abusing this. “
He said that a number of people who arrived in the country last Christmas abused the protocols, resulting in a spike in cases in January and December.
“And right at the moment, you have some real deadly variants, like the delta, and it is in a number of countries in the region, including in Trinidad…
“We have to be very careful that doesn’t let go here. So I know for some persons, it is going to cause a hardship but we just have to do what we have to do,” he said, adding that he has asked Chief Medical Officer Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache and Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Roger Duncan to explain this to the public.
The prime minister said that the two health officers had briefed the Cabinet on Monday.
“Though the numbers now in St. Vincent are quite low for the last several days and we have been controlling fairly well in the shelters – let me knock wood when I say that. But the point is that, you can’t wait till the horse has bolted… They just have to bear with us because we are not an island unto ourselves,” Gonsalves said.