St Vincent plans to bring home sailors
KINGSTOWN – Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says his administration plans to bring home Vincentian sailors who have been stranded on cruise and other ships due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are Vincentians who are still out there who want to come home, just as Vincentians, overwhelmingly, took the opportunity on come home between the 18th and the 28 [of March] when we had the last flight,” said Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on the weekend.
He said some employers want charter flights to bring these Vincentians home.
“But, clearly, from where they are coming, it is going to be important that they be tested and that their employers, for instances, in the case of a cruise ship who may like them to come, they’ll have to organise here, under our own supervision in quarantine facilities after they had been tested properly overseas,” Gonsalves said.
“We can’t deny our citizens the right to come home but we have to put the parameters and the protocols in place under which they can come.”
The prime minister said he knows some people will say that he should let Vincentians who are overseas stay where they are.
“And there is merit in that. But there is the consideration on the other hand. We are not rushing on that because we will ask for certain tests to be done and certain protocols to be clearly and precisely established.”
Gonsalves admitted that the country has had some difficulties, especially with nationals who have returned from overseas, especially sailors, who have been breaking their quarantine.
He said these are “good people, who have made important contributions to their families and to this country”.
“We can’t just turn out back on them, they are citizens of our country, but they have to understand they cannot — you are on quarantine, you have to stay on quarantine.
“It’s irresponsible to break the quarantine. You have been spoken to, you have been advised, the overwhelming majority are following the advice, but there is a small group. I am not saying if you don’t hear you will feel, because that’s not the language for the prime minister. I say that the authorities are responding to any recalcitrance.”