Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Dominica welcomes first cruise ship in more than a year

Published:Wednesday | July 28, 2021 | 12:09 AM

The Dominica government has sought to reassure the country that every step is being taken to safeguard their health as the island, on Tuesday, welcomed the first cruise ship since the borders were closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, said that most people who were expressing fears that the visitors on the cruise ships could be carriers of the virus, have not been vaccinated and “therefore it is important for them to get vaccinated to add this armour in our defence”.

“The reality is at some point you have to open up, and as we recognise from the advent of this pandemic we have always, in a responsible manner, gradually open up the economy and carefully giving consideration to this. The protocols are in place and, ideally, if every one of us and every stakeholder follows the protocols we should be fine,” Skerrit said.

“I think it is an experimental action on our part. The reality is, the people in the tourism industry have suffered in a dramatic way. Vendors have not made a dollar since last year in terms of their trade. Tour guides, taxi operators, so I think it is a good day for them. Let us keep our fingers crossed and let us see how it goes.”

The Seabourn Cruise Line vessel arrived with 135 passengers, and tourism officials said that only vaccinated passengers would be allowed to disembark and proceed on tours on the island.

Tourism Minister Denise Charles said the approved COVID-19 protocols for Dominica reinforce the strict adherence to measures such as temperature checks, mask wearing, hand sanitisation, safe distancing and, importantly, safe practices for vending and tours.

She said based on the protocols, only those who are certified will be allowed to interact with cruise visitors, and only organised or pre-sold tours will be permitted as an initial measure for limiting co-mingling and maintaining social distancing, while the visitors enjoy the experience of the nature island.

Dominica has registered 209 positive cases and no deaths from the virus since the first case was detected in March last year.