With the countdown to the opening of Grenada’s borders on July 01, inspections of premises and sites will be augmented with the introduction of health wardens.
Minister of Health Hon Nikolas Steele, speaking at a June 18 press briefing, said approximately 100 persons are taking training this week to serve as health wardens “so we can have eyes and ears on the ground to inspect and re-inspect.”
Environmental health officers in the Ministry of Health have provided exemplary service, he said; but the additional inspections require more personnel. The environmental health officers are “trying to be everywhere at the same time” inspecting new sites and “ensuring already approved entities, whether it is tourism sites or others, maintain the requirements of the new protocols,” he noted.
“We recognise the full complement of individuals in the Ministry of Health does not allow for that to practically happen.”
He compared this new level of personnel to the recently introduced traffic wardens, who support the Royal Grenada Police Force “in maintaining order in certain specific areas; these health wardens will be assisting the environmental health officers in the specific areas of health with respect to COVID island wide and phytosanitary conditions within the hospitality industry.”
The new health wardens are being trained by officers from the Ministry of Health, who have also carried out extensive training in the tourism and hospitality sector. The Ministry presents successful trainees with certificates of attendance, as well as certificates of approval for facilities that adhere to COVID-19 regulations and protocols.
The expectation that opening the border will bring visitors who venture beyond their hotels and guest houses, means the inspection process will eventually reach “every nook and cranny in this tri island state,” according to Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Hon Clarice Modeste-Curwen.
A “check list” developed collaboratively with the Ministries of Health and Tourism and other stakeholders “will guide these new officers working along with environmental health officers,” she told the press briefing, and referred to the seriousness of the new warden role.
“If you cannot spend the time to attend a session to train yourself, you don’t deserve to be in any job at all where you interact with people,” because it is always possible that someone has the virus or you have the virus.
Inspections have started “to see if all the checks and balances are there” and may request persons to present their certificate of attendance,” she said, noting that this will be on cell phones as more transactions become paperless.
Recognising the situation “remains very fluid” and that the decision to choose the July 01 date was based on science and statistics, Modeste-Curwen said Grenada has a choice. Grenadians can wear masks at all times, follow instructions and guidelines or “we could just prepare to lie down and die.”
“Waiting until COVID-19 is over is not a reality,” she warned.