Chastanet Says State Quarantine Fees A Difficult But Necessary Decision

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Asserting that his administration’s bill for state quarantine facilities is some $US 1 million a month, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has told reporters that the imposition of quarantine fees was a difficult decision for cabinet to make.

But he explained that the decision was necessary.

Chastanet said he understands the reaction of some persons to this week’s announcement of the fees.

However he observed that the government has basically been covering the quarantine cost.

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The Minister of Finance pointed out that it includes the cost of rooming, security, nurses, feeding individuals, and renting the facilities.

Since March this year, local authorities set up quarantine centres using various hotels to facilitate the large number of returning nationals and non-nationals the officials deem to be of concern in relation to COVID-19.

The quarantine services have been provided free of charge.

Notwithstanding the provision, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, Wednesday announced that effective October 15, 2020, fees subsidised by the government will be applied as follows:

For single occupancy USD $95.00
– Double occupancy USD $165.00
– Triple occupancy USD $240.00

Double and triple occupancy applies to families within the same unit.

Belmar-George disclosed that home quarantine will apply to minors, persons with health conditions and those with specific conditions to allow home quarantine.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet told reporters that the free state quarantine service was supposed to end in July.

“Clearly we saw the demand from overseas and understanding how successful the programme has been in maintaining the safety of Saint Lucia, cabinet agreed to extend it by one month. It then became August and we realized we could not end it in August, so we extended it by and additional month – September,” the PM recalled.

He noted that the government could not carry the burden of the cost by itself.

“We also believe the bulk of persons who wanted to come home have been able to come home. So the good news is that for the most part, the quarantine period has been reduced to seven days,” he told reporters.

“So if you come in with a negative COVID test you go into quarantine for 7 days and if on the 7th day you test negative, we allow you to go out and that’s where the monitoring bands come into place. So instead of having to remain in quarantine, we still monitor you from a contact tracing perspective,” Chastanet noted.

Asked about provisions to exempt returning students and people coming back from medical treatment, the PM said the matter is being looked at.

“We will just have to see, based on the resources we have, whether we can continue to do that but sadly, the cost of COVID has really been overwhelming for us,” Chastanet said.

He said the hope is that within the next month or two months the pre-testing programmes being done would be sufficient  to allow persons to come home without quarantining.

“That’s the ultimate goal that we have,” Chastanet explained.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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