Guidelines for Reopening of TCI International Ports of Entry
The management of the establishment should adopt a responsible attitude to address the health threat of COVID-19. All ports of entry should ensure that similar approaches in preparing to reopen the borders.
The Management Team, in consultation with Ministry of Tourism and Tourist Board should establish an action plan tailored to the situation and implement it in accordance with the recommendations of Ministry of Health. The aim of the Plan should be to prevent cases, effectively manage cases, and mitigate impact among clients and staff, including cleaning and disinfection of rooms occupied by ill persons. The plan, which may incorporate teleworking, should be updated when necessary as a consequence of new guidance, procedures, or regulations issued by the Ministry of Health.
Mobilization of resources
The Management Team should make sufficient human and economic resources available to ensure that the action plan can be implemented rapidly and effectively. The action plan should also include the provision of equipment and procedures, developed in collaboration with Ministry of Health, for the management of suspected case(s) and their possible contacts.
The implementation of the action plan and the effectiveness of the measures undertaken should be evaluated frequently to verify compliance, identify and correct gaps, and adapt the plan to practical experience. A Crisis Team involving members of each relevant department can support Management in the implementation of the action plan and timely identification of required adjustments. It is necessary to be alert to any unusual rise in worker absenteeism, especially those due to acute respiratory infections, possibly caused by COVID-19.
Communication should be maintained between Management and staff, through the managers in charge of the different departments, in order to pre-define an information policy for guests as well as to rapidly provide and obtain information on incidents that may arise in the establishment and to know the status of the situation at all times. Providing guidelines to the staff on how they should communicate the action plan to guests and other stakeholders can ensure alignment consistency. Information posters can amplify the key messages among guests and staff, including the promotion of hand-washing (at least 20 seconds, all parts of the hand), respiratory hygiene, and coughing etiquette.
Training and information
Management should inform all staff of the measures to be adopted and the measures that could protect their health and that of others, including the recommendation to stay home and seek medical attention if they have respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or shortness of breath.
Management should organize information briefings that should cover all the basic protective measures against COVID-19 and the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Reduce Transmission Among Employees
Actively encourage sick employees to stay home:
- Employees who have symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should notify their supervisor and stay home.
- Sick employees should follow the following steps:
Stay home except to get medical care
- Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
- Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency. If you are having an emergency, call 911 and inform them in advance if you suspect you may have COVID-19.
- Avoid; ride-sharing, or taxis if ill.
- Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home quarantine are met, in consultation with the public health team of the Ministry of Health.
- Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow MOH instructions.
- Be aware that some employees may be at higher risk for serious illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. Consider minimizing face-to-face contact between these employees or assign work tasks that allow them to maintain a distance of six feet from other workers, customers and visitors, or to telework if possible.
- Avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
- Practice social distancing by avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.
Separate sick People:
- Employees who appear to have symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required. The employer should instruct fellow employees about how to proceed based on the Ministry of Health guidance.
Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices.
- Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.
- Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member or take care of children due to school and childcare closures. Additional flexibilities might include giving advances on future sick leave and allowing employees to donate sick leave to each other.
- Employers that do not currently offer sick leave to some or all of their employees may want to draft non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies.
- Employers should not require a positive COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.
Consider establishing policies and practices for social distancing
Social distancing should be implemented if recommended by state and local health authorities. Social distancing means avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible (e.g., breakrooms and cafeterias). Strategies that business could use include:
- Implementing flexible worksites (e.g., telework)
- Implementing flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts)
- Increasing physical space between employees at the worksite
- Increasing physical space between employees and customers
- Implementing flexible meeting and travel options (e.g., postpone non-essential meetings or events)
- Downsizing operations
- Delivering services remotely (e.g. phone, video, or web)
- Delivering products through curbside pick-up or delivery
Reopening of TCI Seaports
Once the Turks and Caicos Islands Seaports are re-open the following measures must be implemented:
- All vessels entering the TCI must get Environmental Health Clearances at the only 2 ports Providenciales and Grand Turk. Vessels that enter the outer islands must be sent to 1 of these ports for clearance.
- Social distancing must remind in place at all premises
- Restrict access to ports to persons who absolutely have to visit the ports; social distancing protocols to remain in place
- Shipping agents and truckers who visit the ports to keep in place safety protocols introduced until further notice
- Stevedore company to keep in place safety protocols introduced, until further notice
- All sea travelers must wear mask and present a medical certificate showing they are CoVid-19 free and their travel itinerary. If unable to present a medical certificate they would be subjected to a 14-day quarantine.
- All vessels entering the TCI must complete the Ministry of Health, CoVid-19 Health Questionnaire
- Sea vessels companies including ferries, pleasure craft, sunset cruising vessels must practice social distancing on vessels.
- Boats must be disinfected prior to passengers boarding.
- All Front line staff (Immigration, Customs, Police, Port Security) must be provided with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) including reusable Full face shield: with each staff member having responsibility for their own equipment they will ensure that its properly clean and maintain in good working condition.
- Grand Turk Cruise Center remain close to regional and international Cruise Ships.
- Cleaning of restrooms after every use
- Staff must practice hand-washing every 30-45 minutes for 20 seconds. Ensure availability of handwashing facilities and hand sanitizer.
- All staff must disinfect their work station after each captain, crew or passenger: this will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as some persons are asymptomatic.
- Clean/ disinfect working areas between shifts
- Shipping companies, ferry services and ferry check-in agents must disinfect their work station after each passenger: this will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as some persons are asymptomatic.
- All restaurant must practice social distancing, proper hand-washing (with soap and water) and have hand sanitizer at the entrance for persons entering the restaurants
- Ports must post hand washing and wearing of mask or face covering signs throughout all marinas and seaports.
- Social Distancing Marking should be in place to guide passengers: this will help in keeping distance between each passenger or families.
- Ships to continue to report any cases of illness indicative of COVID-19 infection on board as early as possible before arrival to the relevant authority in the port [EHD to first board if there are any health observations; otherwise immigration and customs proceeds can commence before offloading].
- Advise ships to regularly monitor shipboard personnel while in port for the exhibition of any symptoms associated with COVID-19, and report any changes in circumstances of the health of shipboard personnel to the relevant authority in the port.
- Continue restricting shipboard personnel to the ship while in port except for crew change-over or to receive emergency medical attention not available on board the ship.
- Limit, as far as possible, the number of interactions with shipboard personnel by entities in the port to only those critical and essential for the continued operation and supply of the ship.
- Continue to provide information to port workers on basic protective measures against COVID-19 based on WHO advice.
- Port workers to comply with any screening or other protocols or procedures introduced by visiting ships to address COVID-19.
- Provide seafarers/ crew with access to emergency medical treatment ashore in the event of medical emergencies.
- Signs on safety protocols to be clearly displayed in ports
- Any employee health concerns to be reported to Ministry of Health as soon as possible.
Reopening of TCI Airports
Once the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports are reopening the following measures must be implemented:
- Social distancing must remain in place at all premises
- All air travelers must wear masks/face coverings.
- All travelers entering the TCI must complete the Ministry of Health, Covid-19 Health Questionnaires.
- Airline companies must practice social distancing in flight.
- Plane must be disinfected prior to passengers boarding.
- Plexi-glass protection for front-line workers (immigration/customs): the pros for the use of Plexi-glass will protect the officers from direct contact with passengers. Cons for the use of Plexi-glass are: cleaning after each passenger, cleaning after another officer enters the booth, or if someone sneezes/coughs.
- All Front line staff (Immigration, Customs, Police) must be provided with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) including reusable full face shields: with each staff member having responsibility for their own equipment they will ensure that its properly cleaned and maintain in good working condition.
- Cleaning of restrooms every 15 minutes. Cleaning staff should be provided with the relevant PPE to use when cleaning.
- Ensure multiple alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the airport with adequate signage for passengers.
- Installation of touch-free equipment in toilet facilities, such as:
- Automatic toilet flushing system
- Taps and soap/hand sanitiser dispensers
- Automated hand towel dispensers
- Staff must practice hand-washing every 30-45 minutes for 20 seconds using soap and water.
- All Airport Staff must disinfect their work stations after each passenger: this will help prevent the spread of Covid-19 as some persons with Covid-19 may be asymptomatic.
- Airline companies, ticket agents and check-in agents must disinfect their work station after each passenger: this will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as some persons are asymptomatic.
- All restaurants must practice social distancing, proper hand-washing (with soap and water) and have hand sanitizer at the entrance for persons entering the restaurants.
- Restaurants should operate at reduced occupancy and be guided by the MOH protocols for restaurants in order to ensure the safety of customers and staff.
- Airports to post hand washing signs and other hygiene messages throughout the airports.
- Social Distancing Markings should be in place to guide passengers: this will help in keeping distance between each passenger or families.
- Cleaning and disinfection of terminal infrastructure and all equipment should be done on a regular basis and its frequency should be increased as required due to traffic and use based on the aforementioned plan.
- Increase the availability of cleaning and disinfecting products approved by the applicable authorities.
- Ensure all cleaning and disinfection staff are aware of the cleaning and disinfection plan. This information needs to ensure staff are utilising products effectively and addressing areas that are frequently touched and most likely to be contaminated, such as:
- Airport information desks, check-in areas, Immigration/Customs areas, Security screening area, boarding areas, etc.
- Washrooms and baby changing areas.
- Luggage trolleys and collection points: cleaned with dispensable wet wipes or disinfectants.
- Implement measures that reduce congestion within these areas through advanced-planning and monitoring of passenger flows.
- Airports should provide signage, floor markings and announcements via Public Address (PA) system to encourage physical distancing. Support communication of key prevention messages from health authorities through audio messages and signs at key touchpoints of the passenger journey.
- Various self-service tools, such as boarding pass and baggage tag kiosks and baggage drop are of specific concern due to the high levels of physical contact that increase the probability of contamination. Usage of these devices should nonetheless be encouraged to reduce face-to-face interactions, but with careful attention to the management of passenger flow and keeping such devices adequately and constantly disinfected.
- Whenever possible, passengers should be encouraged to complete check-in processes prior to arriving at the airport. Online check-in, mobile boarding pass will contribute to the reduction in the amount of contact with airport staff and infrastructure.
- At the traditional check-in counters, use floor signage in the queuing area to encourage social distancing and consider installation of transparent barriers in front of staff at counters.
- Disinfection of the touch screens should be done between each use.
- Whenever possible, airport and other stakeholders should use contactless processes and technology. Such digital identification processes can be applied to self-service bag drops, various queue access, boarding gates and retail and duty-free outlets. This will eliminate or greatly reduce the need for contact with travel documents between staff and passengers. It may also accelerate various processes, resulting in enhanced health protection, reduced queuing and other process efficiencies.
- Provide hand sanitizers and disinfection products prior to passengers and staff screening access points where possible.
- Screeners and passengers should maintain physical distancing to the extent possible or wear the appropriate PPE to mitigate the risk of exposure.
- Rearranging of security checkpoint access and layouts should be considered with the objective of reducing queues and crowding to the extent possible while maintaining desirable throughput. This should include both divestment areas and those areas where passengers retrieve their screened cabin baggage.
- Markings should be established on the ground within the queueing area to indicate the proper distancing recommended by the appropriate authorities. Physical distancing should remain in place until informed by relevant health authorities that it is safe to relax them.
- Procedures involving passengers presenting boarding passes and other travel documents to security personnel should be done, to the extent possible, while avoiding physical contact and in a way that minimizes face-to-face interaction. Should there be a need to identify a person wearing a mask against a government-issued photo identification, the mask could be removed if physical distancing measures are met. Appropriate signage should be deployed that clearly inform about subsequent steps of the process.
Possible solutions include:
- Direct passengers to use automatic boarding pass scanners at access points while maintaining appropriate physical distance.
- Using mobile boarding pass scanners operated by the security staff.
- Conducting a visual inspection of the boarding pass and relevant identification documentation, as required by standard operating procedures.
- Automated gates and mobile scanners’ reader surface should be disinfected with the same frequency as for any other high-touch surface.
- Passenger preparation officers should be deployed to ensure passengers are prepared for the divestment requirements. Screeners should reinforce processes with passengers accessing divesting areas, such that they properly divest and are less likely to cause a false alarm (to minimize the use of manual searches).
- Routine enhanced cleaning and disinfecting should be conducted, if required, of frequently touched/exposed surfaces and security screening equipment, including trays at the security checkpoint and baggage areas.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be distributed to staff for the cleaning and disinfection of their hands, and screening staff should wear gloves.
- Screeners should change gloves after each manual search.
- Employees should be advised to wash their hands after removing gloves.
- Appropriate signage and information to passengers should be clearly displayed regarding newly implemented health requirements, as well as modified screening processes. Signage should highlight the need for passenger cooperation throughout the screening process.
- Whenever screening checkpoints are processing a high number of passengers, staff and crew screening should be performed in dedicated checkpoints and separately from passengers (as an additional preventive health measure), where possible.
- If there is a need to conduct a manual search, screeners should adapt their methodology to avoid being face-to-face with passengers or other persons being screened.
- The use of a face mask is recommended for staff required to interact with passengers in close proximity.
- Larger quantities of health-related liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) than prescribed by applicable regulations, such as alcohol-based hand disinfectants, could be accepted if the appropriate authority for aviation security permits.
In order to minimize the time spent at an airport, passengers should complete as much of the check-in process as possible before arriving at the airport. Therefore, IATA suggests that governments should remove any regulatory obstacles to enabling such things as mobile or home printed boarding passes and electronic or home printed bag tags and personal data capture online. Physical distancing should be implemented both at counters and self-service kiosks. At airports, self-service options should be made available and utilized as much as possible to limit contact at all passenger touchpoints. A general move towards greater use of touchless technology and biometrics should also be pursued.
Where baggage self-service devices are in use, airlines should proactively guide passengers to self-bag drop options to minimize the interactions (physical handover of baggage) between passengers and check-in agents.
An orderly boarding process will be necessary to ensure physical distancing, especially once load factors start increasing. Here good cooperation between the airline, airport and government is vital. Airlines will need to revise their current boarding process to ensure physical distancing. Airports will need to assist in redesigning gate areas in order to accommodate physical distancing. The increased use of automation, such as self-scanning and biometrics should be facilitated. Especially during the early stages of the restart phase, carry-on baggage should be limited to facilitate a smooth boarding process with physical distancing.
As an added protection against possible in-flight transmission, the MOH recommends the use of face coverings by travellers in situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained, including in flight.
Non-intrusive mass temperature screening equipment needs to be used and the screening should be conducted with appropriate social distancing and as efficiently as possible by appropriately trained staff who can safely deal with the possibility of an ill passenger. All parties at the airport should cooperate to ensure that passengers are clearly informed of the measures that are in place and given clear.
Disembarking and Arrivals
Border Control and Customs processes may need to be temporarily revised to increase physical distancing. Where equipment already exists, the use of Automated Border Control (ABC) equipment, digital passenger identification (biometrics) as well as technology (thermal screening) that could serve as an additional health screening measure, could speed up the immigration process, reduce queuing, and minimize contacts between border officials and passengers.
A health screening will be provided by arriving passengers before departure or on arrival as an initial screening measure (see annex A). Information provided by passengers can be vetted by officials, who can decide if a passenger should be sent for secondary assessment.
- Coordinate with various border regulatory authorities (customs, immigration, health, etc.) for measures to facilitate clearance of entry/arrival, such as enabling contactless processes (e.g. relating to the reading of passport chips etc.).
- Where declarations are required on arrival, governments should consider electronic options (mobile applications and QR codes) to minimize human-to-human contact. Information could be sent in advance via government portals. For customs formalities, where possible green/red lanes for self-declarations are recommended.
- Automate the identity verification process with the use of biometric technology. Use of contactless technology, Automated Border Control or eGates should be encouraged in order to enhance transaction time and limit interaction between passengers, officers and staff.
- If required by relevant regulations, smart thermal cameras can be installed to scan the temperature of multiple passengers rapidly and unobtrusively.
- During initial stages of recovery and if required, secondary health assessments could be set to maintain the main general flow of passengers. Thermal screening can be conducted prior to the customs hall.
- Temperature screenings will be in place for all passengers arriving from regional and international destinations.
- Public Health Staff will be on hand to collect health screening questionnaires and identify passengers requiring more extensive questioning or examination as required. The Public Health Team has protocols for screening and separating ill passengers who may need further evaluation.
- Use of thermal scanners is being reviewed for arriving international passengers.
- Spacing of flights is required to allow for social distancing and health screenings to take place safely.
The baggage claim area in an airport is susceptible to high passenger footfall and physical contact with luggage carts, baggage, washrooms and other facilities. Disinfection measures and an increased frequency of cleaning should be implemented.
All efforts need to be made to provide a speedy baggage claim process and ensure that passengers are not made to wait for excessive amounts of time in the baggage claim area.
- Maximize use of available arrival baggage carousels to limit the gathering of passengers.
- Ensure that the customs clearance process is as speedy as possible and that appropriate measures are taken in case of physical baggage inspections.
- Align cleaning schedule based on flight schedules to ensure a more frequent, in-depth disinfection of luggage carts, washrooms, rails etc.
- Allow for self-service kiosk or online options for passenger needing to report lost or damaged luggage.
- Encourage the use of baggage delivery services, where the passenger's baggage can be delivered directly to their hotel or home.
- Sharing baggage tracking information with passengers so that they are able to make a baggage claim if it is mishandled without waiting in the reclaim area.
- Establish protocol for cleaning and disinfection of the area.
Annex A-Traveler Entry Card