by Linda Straker
- 19 Grenadian crew members of Princess Cruises return home
- 26 employee-nationals of the Carnival Cruise Line will arrive tomorrow
- Medical records, including Covid-19 test results taken 24 to 48 hours prior to ships’ arrival to be provided by cruise line
19 Grenadians who were serving as crew members of Princess Cruises who were stranded at sea — because the cruise line lost business due to Covid-19, plus the enforcing of regulations that shut airports to contain the disease — were repatriated on Saturday.
“I hope you are feeling better now that you are home,” Health Minister, Nickolas Steele told the first batch of returning crew members during a ceremony at the Melville Street Cruise Terminal. They came ashore via one of the ship’s tenders after the relevant authorities gave permission for them to be accepted.
In accordance with health protocols and procedures, each of the returnees will first be placed in a 14-day mandatory quarantine before mingling with family. The quarantine location has not been made public. In his welcome address, Minister Steele said told them that they will be “in a place close to Grand Anse beach, but they cannot go out.”
At the outset of the Covid-19 in January, Grenada decided to quarantine nationals upon arrival but later into the contagion, as Europe and the USA became hot spots, many were asked to self-isolate.
By mid-March, Grenada started to receive laboratory-confirmed cases of persons who entered the country from the UK, and the airport was shut down to passenger traffic. The shutdown affected the arrival of Grenadians who became trapped in other territories.
Grenada, like most countries in the region, decided to declare a state of emergency which restricted the movement of citizens as part of a strategy to contain the disease. There are presently 21 laboratory-confirmed cases, with 20 on the island because one left without medical permission.
Persons working on cruise ships were among those trapped; even if airlines wanted to send them home, the lack of functioning airports made that impossible. On Friday, the Government of Grenada in a news release said that after weeks of discussion, it had granted permission for the repatriation of 26 employee-nationals of the Carnival Cruise Line, and 18 crew member nationals from Princess Cruises.
The Caribbean Princess cruise ship was scheduled to arrive at the Melville Street Cruise Terminal, St George’s, on Saturday, 9 May 2020 at 8 am, but instead arrived at 2 pm. The Carnival Glory ship is scheduled to arrive on Sunday, 10 May at 8 am.
Tourism Minister, Clarice Modeste, told the returning nationals who will all have to be tested as part of the health procedure during the quarantine, that the decision to put them into quarantine is one that must be seen in their best interest despite them spending such a long time on the ship.
“This is for the safety of family and country,” she said, explaining that this is a mandatory change due to Covid-19, and “it will continue until things change.”
As part of the measures, the cruise lines have agreed to provide up-to-date medical records for all crew members, to include Covid-19 test results taken 24 to 48 hours prior to ships’ arrival. Crew members received additional medical screening at the Melville Street Cruise Terminal before heading to the quarantine location.