Protocols, procedures, quarantine requirements and related safety measures will be put to the test today with the scheduled arrival of the first commercial flight from New York at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA).
The JetBlue flight, which was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Grenada in Washington DC, is repatriating 88 Grenadians who have been stranded in the United States for months due to the coronavirus pandemic and closed borders.
The protocols require passengers to be PCR tested prior to departure. Passengers who received a rapid or PCR test from June 08 to 15 are accepted, but those who received an anti-body test will need to be retested as any test done after June 15, 2020 must be a PCR test, according to the protocols directed at the Grenadian nationals stranded in the US.
Speaking at a press briefing Thursday (June 18) Minister of Health Hon Nikolas Steele said the measures are put in place to protect the passengers and “the rest of us.” He noted that there are some individuals who have not been able to meet all the testing requirements due to the unavailability of testing in some parts of the US. For those individuals and others who did not receive results of their tests before leaving New York, the Ministry has implemented additional procedures, he said.
The returning Grenadians are required to “wear an appropriate, well-fitting and recommended mask at all times whilst in the departure lounge, during boarding, and for the duration of the flight. It is recommended that at-risk individuals wear an N95 mask throughout the boarding, travel and arrival period.” The Embassy provided each passenger with one surgical mask for use until they get to their quarantine accommodations and one washable, cloth mask for use in Grenada.
The Minister explained that the returning nationals will have a repeat PCR test within 24 hours of their arrival and then remain in quarantine for a minimum of 14 days under health surveillance. The first four days will be under mandatory quarantine at a government facility and the remaining time “under mandatory restricted travel movement.”
Restricted movement only allows the returning nationals to leave their homes for urgent medical attention and walking for one hour per day. The protocol stipulates that leaving home at other times without permission may result in “mandatory quarantine by the Ministry of Health and security forces.” Further, an individual under restricted movement is “not permitted to visit churches, attend funerals, be present at any social function, (and) engage in any group sporting activity or to be part of any social interactions outside of limited contact with household members.”