enfrhtptes

ADVICE ON LIVING UNDER NATIONAL LOCKDOWN

Good morning TCI.  It’s the Governor. Having had two night-time curfews, TCI is waking up to its first full day of lockdown.

For clarity, what we mean by this is that each night, from 8pm to 5am, the rules that you have followed over the last two nights apply. Be at home. Only those essential front line services - involved in direct work during the hours of curfew - or those involved in preparing our supermarkets - may be out on the roads. 

It’s working extremely well so let’s keep it like that. We are all at our safest - from infection - when we are like this.  It also means the Police are in a far better position to look after our overall physical safety. 

In terms of context - for what I’m about to say - the dashboard will change today. We still don’t have any confirmed deaths but we now have four, rather than two, confirmed cases. We learned that yesterday evening. 

Those involved know, and are properly quarantined. The key point - and it’s why I ask you to not only follow the rules and laws, but apply the highest standards of self discipline - is that both individuals were part of what we call “contact tracing’ that followed our previous two cases. 

You know how this virus spreads, it spreads from person to person. The more you follow the laws, but also the spirit in which the laws were drafted, the safer you will be and the safer your immediate family will be.  And in these Islands if families can stay safe, society can stay safe. 

This morning we will all need to adjust to a different set of circumstances during the daytime. What are they?

The default position is that you should be in your home or in your yard. You should be self quarantined with just your family or those you share your household with.  This will vary greatly, from those who live alone and may well feel very isolated, to those who have large households where living in close proximity will be a different type of experience. 

Why this sacrifice, because first of all it protects us all from all others. The less time we spend in each others company, the less chance of exposure.  

Set against this, if one of us becomes ill it will be straightforward to isolate that person and for our health professionals to go on to understand and monitor the small number of people the new patient has come into contact with. We are attempting to stop the spread and if we can’t stop all the spread, then isolate it.

The ideal of course is that we all hunker down in our homes for three weeks - never emerging. Of course we know you can’t live your life totally isolated in this way. Food and water are required for life. Exercise is required as much for mental as physical well-being. So the laws allow for this.

What laws find difficult, in the best of times, is legislating for every eventuality.   Each one of you have unique circumstances. On this we have to rely on your personal judgment. We have to rely on your common sense. I’ll say something on that in a moment, but first specific advice.

SUPERMARKETS, BANKS, GAS AND WATER,

You are allowed to go to the supermarket, bank, gas station or water provider.  Think carefully, this is not an opportunity for multiple trips. Keep coming back to what we need to achieve - a dramatic reduction of movement and interaction on the islands.

This is not a family outing. One person in the car, one person per family at the supermarket or outlet. If you really can’t achieve this - we are all different - you will need a really good reason to provide a Police Officer who will use their judgment. 

The supermarkets are by far the place where the largest congregation of people will now be (and congratulations to them on how strict they are on numbers inside the store and distancing) so help them and help others by seriously reducing the footfall.

If you are stopped by a Police Officer on the way to the supermarket or vendor except to have your details taken including your address. You will need to be on the road between your home and the supermarket, bank, gas station or water vendor or vice versa. Retain the receipt from the supermarket, water vendor or gas station and keep it at home as proof you did indeed visit the outlet ion that day at around that time.

The police have to use their judgement and will. Don’t expect to be able to say you are going to get ‘Gas’ when you have anything other than close to an empty tank. I say this for the 1% who we know will not follow any guidelines and will just be permanently selfish looking to stretch the rules to suit themselves.

Please note there are special provisions in the regulations from 6am to 8am for senior, disabled persons, and essential workers to use the stores. Please do take advantage of that. 

RECREATION:

We need you to use tremendous common sense and self-judgement here.  What we mean by this is you are outside and being active. 

First, no driving to your place of recreation.  Second, you can do this with those you are in the same household with or in a solitary way. This includes dog walking; do it from your home please. 

Third, the public beaches are closed. We know many would have used them in a very responsible way. But we have seen elsewhere the exact opposite. The beaches used in ways that really damaged all that was attempting to be achieved. 

I’ve seen chat group messaging where people have been trying to work out whether a course of action is allowed within the law. Just the very fact they are discussing it, the very fact they feel they need reassurance from others, suggests it fails one of the five principles I will describe in a moment. 

CHURCHES:

Churches are closed tomorrow. We of course didn’t do this lightly. In a Christian country this is a significant step. We also understand that some churches are better suited than others with regard to their ability to control numbers and social distancing. 

But in terms of the overall ecumenical community - Christians standing together in face of adversity - we believe it best that all churches stand together as one. Every parishioner and every church leader this Sunday will be united as one, in terms of their denial, on behalf of the health of the nation. 

I’d say only that church isn’t a building, church is a community and a congregation, and at present community - particularly when bringing together very different age groups from multiple different family units -  is the one thing we must prevent. 

It also shows great role-modelling leadership, by our spiritual leaders, that they themselves are taking this most difficult course of action that protects the community.  

I spoke with Bishop Bryant Cox of the Christian Council this morning thanking him - and all church leaders - for the Churches leadership in this area. 

Once we have dramatically reduced the risk - over the first few days of this week - myself and the Premier will work with the Church to ensure they can provide a virtual spiritual service to the people. Faith is important at this time and for many here.  While we contain this threat, treat this Sunday, please, as one of denial, one of selflessness and also a moment to protect yourself and your family, perhaps pray for your family, in the comfort of your own home.  

COMMON SENSE.

As I said, laws are blunt - common sense and judgement our best protection. So, if it helps, this is the tests I apply.  If you are thinking through whether or not you can take a particular course of action that appears to be allowed by the law first ask yourself this:

 - Am I making this decision for my own personal advantage, or am I making this decision because I believe it’s in the good of all and for the good of those people I know I’m going to come into contact with over the next three weeks. In other words is this decision selfish or selfless.

 - Second: in making this decision am I making the tough choice, or am I taking the easy option?  If you find yourself achieving what you need to achieve through difficulty and inconvenience because that contributes to the greater good, rather than taking the easy choice, which works for you but puts others slightly more at risk, you are probably in the wrong place.

 - Third: if you have some advantage bestowed on you because you are an essential worker - or you are for instance wealthy - ask yourself, “if I was on the stage in front of the public and had to justify what I did, would the public easily agree, or would they pity a lack of integrity”.

 - Fourth: do you see yourself as a role model in your home, workplace, neighbourhood, church or wider society.  If you are a young person do you aspire to be a leader? Ask are the behaviours you are exhibiting those of a role-model. Role-modelling doesn’t mean people will copy your exact behaviour but they will translate what you are doing into their own lives and deny themselves opportunities over the next three weeks for the good of all if they see you denying yourself.

-  Finally: think through the consequences. Do you really, - I mean really - need to do this. If you were to find out that your action infected you, and through you those you live with, would you look back and think that - at the time - you made all the right judgment calls. 

If everyone were to apply to those five main principles : Selflessness, making tough rather than easy choices, not taking advantage of particular advantages bestowed; demonstrating role-modelling behaviours and thinking through the second order consequences of their decisions, there would be little need for laws and regulations. 

FINALLY:

In terms of the announcement yesterday around registering essential workers, we are now working through over 500 emails from employers. Our aim, as I said yesterday, is to have answers with you, and the database active, by first light Monday.  In the interim the Police, and you, should use your judgement 

We’ve pulled all of the requests together yesterday to ensure we could see themes and in seeing themes ensure there is consistency. We want to avoid arbitrary decisions.

We will start going through these one by one today - I’ll make final decisions on those that appear difficult. To get expectations in the right place we intend to start off hard and review as the weeks progress.  Much easier to make sensible further decisions once movement is at a minimum than the other way round.

With that in mind we will not (not) be agreeing to the opening of any takeaways or those providing food delivery services until at least Thursday morning.  We will consider agreeing to relax this, then, but first I want to really understand how much movement we have going on across the Islands because this just adds another level of potential contagion.  I hope you can see the reasoning.

Until then the advice remains the same. Imagine this weekend we have a Category 5 Hurricane barrelling towards us. Hunker down.  Avoid absolutely all unnecessary travel. Three weeks will feel like a long time as we go through it, but will have passed quickly when we look back. And we can change our future if we get this right. Which we will.

Enjoy your Saturday, and stay safe TCI.

CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO VERSION

 

PREMIER ANNOUNCES TCI STIMULUS PACKAGE IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

As a Government in deciding on a timulus package our goal was to ensure that we can help residents to survive even after this health crisis. Whether we want to accept it or not and through no fault of our own we have found ourselves in this situation which I can only describe as hurricane mode. As such we had to take a holistic approach in ensuring that we can survive in the long run. We have seen packages announced in other Caribbean countries and have reviewed them and have taken the position to offer a more comprehensive package which will not just include government-assisted programs but also service providers in critical sectors. 

Cabinet today approved a full package of benefits that will serve as a direct economic stimulus following the fall out in economic activities across the Islands as a result of the global pandemic – COVID 19.  The stimulus package is being proposed to lessen the impact of the global crisis on residents, whilst allowing the Ministry of Health to strengthen health policy responses.

The TCI is a tourism dependent country and a fall out in tourism revenue will affect the workers and micro-small and medium enterprises who are directly involved in this sector as well as businesses that serve this sector.  The rapid spread of the virus has dented the global growth outlook in our major source markets and they have lowered their outlooks. Also, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected negative growth for the Caribbean region. The ports of entry within the TCI have been closed to visitors, halting economic activities within the hospitality industry.  Economic prospects are damaged. It is estimated that the closure of businesses will affect approximately:

  • 10,000 hospitality workers (This would include, but not limited to, cruise sector businesses and workers, hotel staff, water sports operators, taxi drivers, restaurant employees, concierge services, spa and salon services);
  •   1,261 self-employed individuals and;
  •   Approximately 2000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)

The Economic Package today addresses these individuals and businesses. 

We have created a package for the individual, the small business as well as the large businesses. We have likewise, agreed measures that can be stimulants for economy. Our deliberations have not been solely what Government can do but we have reached out, lobbied and in some cases negotiated with critical sectors to offer compassionate responses.

In order to deliver our assistance, your Government will run a deficit Budget of over $100m, draw on savings, borrow and establish a line of credit. Now, turning to the Turks and Caicos Islands stimulus package, I would like to report that the Turks and Caicos Islands Government will be providing approximately $45m in direct financial support and waivers of taxes, fees and charges. This is independent - All TCIG’s injection of $35.2m through its Development Fund Capital Projects. This is being presented after careful consideration of a potential loss greater than $100m in revenue and careful consideration of the fact that we will be funding any budget deficit by a credit facility/loan or grants from the UK Government and the previous year’s reserves. We also took into consideration the fact that our economy is dependent on tourism, which is the major revenue earner. We are cognizant that multiple persons across the TCI will be impacted such as hospitality workers, taxi drivers, land and water tour operators, employees in the transport sector, servers in the hospitality industry, bartenders, cruise sector dependent workers, spa workers just to say the least. For this reason, your Government is presenting this stimulus package of an excess of $45m.

From this $45 million, $15 million is to be made available in direct assistance to employees and self-employed within the hospitality industry that would have been laid off, seized operations or terminated since March 16, 2020.  It is being proposed that these individuals will be given a one off payment of $1,200.  This is in addition to the payouts that they may be receiving from their employers.  The payment will be further assessed once additional funding is identified by MOF. We felt that since households are diverse and are made up of a single working individual or in some cases persons from other islands who may be sharing households just to make ends meet but still have mouths to feed, it would be better to pay employee and not households.

The eligibility criteria will be released via RTC and on the Government website.

Employees from hospitality sector must also submit/email the following documents to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:

  • Two forms Government issued ID
  • A copied of last employment payslip/NIB contribution
  • Employee Banking details
  • Employee NIB number
  • Proof that Employee is still in TCI

Payment will be processed by Treasury and logistics will be announced further.

We are keenly aware of the challenges being faced by the MSME sector in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic particularly in relation to businesses that provide services within the Tourism industry. As such, the Government in its efforts to support the small business community, has secured a $10m fund that will provide cash grants to the MSME sector. The grants will be issued to micro, small and medium sized businesses under what will be known as the Coronavirus Business Assistance Grant.

The Coronavirus Business Assistance Grant will provide cash flow assistance by making available sums of up to $2,000 for micro businesses, $3,500 for small businesses and $5,000 for medium sized businesses. We will shortly be providing additional information about the scheme in particular, how to apply and qualify for the grant. The survival of the MSME sector is important to the overall growth and success of the Turks and Caicos Islands economy.  We therefore encourage MSMEs to take advantage of the funding being made available under the Coronavirus Business Assistance Grant as the Government continues to work to safeguard your survival in what is now a deeply fragile, world economy.

The eligibility criteria for the grants would be as follows:

  • Copy of Business licence for the period 2019 to 2020
  • Copy of last NIB contributions paid for February 2020. This would provide proof of the number of employees that are employed by the MSME. (for MSMEs that are not registered with NIB, upon confirmation of NIB registration that would be eligible for a grant of $1000)

Under this stimulus-package the government has increased the social welfare budget by 100 percent. From this increased amount an additional $500,000 has been added to the budgetary allocation to further boost the home-help programme that is being managed through the social welfare programme. The Home Help programme will therefore be doubled to meet the needs of additional persons that may become destitute due to the fall out in global economic activities. Additionally, a payment moratorium will be placed on existing TC Invest mortgages for the period April to September 2020. This moratorium will be offered to all mortgages holders who are not in arrears with mortgage payments.

An increase of $5m for Concessions Under Refurbishment Policy (Currently $10m): The Government has also revised the Refurbishment Policy Concessions to support Villas who may wish to refurbish during this time.  Currently TCIG has approved a total of $10m a year in concessions relating to the refurbishment policy. Ministry of Finance has proposed that this annual allocation be increased to $15m for the period April 2020 to 31st March 2021.

There will be a delay in payments of the following licences until July 2020:

  • Business Licence Fees
  • Sport and Fishing Licence Fees
  • National Parks Licence fees
  • Boat or Vessel registration fees
  • Mooring Fees
  • Capital Fees
  • Radio and Inspection Fees

Entrepreneurs are however still required to complete the application process. The projected revenue deferred is approximately $1.1m. This deferral would be extended to all persons/businesses that currently hold or held a licence for FY 19/20.

TCIG will waive all charges for water for the months of April –June 2020. No disconnections would be carried out during the period April to June 2020. ($9.7m Write Off of Long Outstanding Water Arrear) The projected revenue to be foregone is $9.7m. This stimulus item would encourage clean living and assist providing water to residents on the islands of Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos.

Waiver of Duties (where applicable) and CPF for basic food items and essential medical supplies: During this period of economic uncertainty thrust upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government remains committed to protecting the consumer. Therefore, by virtue of the powers afforded to me under Section 16(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Ordinance, I will explore the option of using it a price ceiling on basic food items and essential medical supplies. These items and supplies will constitute the Covid-19 Basket of Goods.

An Order will be issued giving effect to the Covid-19 Basket of Goods which will make it mandatory that every vendor, that includes supermarkets and grocers, observe the prices set by the Government in relation to each item in the Covid-19 Basket of Goods. The Turks and Caicos Islands is a free market economy however; these are unprecedented times that require a shift from the ordinary.

The Government’s intention is not to frustrate the businesses that supply us with these essential items but to act to ensure that every citizen and resident has adequate access to food and essential medical supplies so that we as a people and country are able to survive and combat this deadly virus. We will therefore permit all items in the Covid-19 Basket of Goods to be exempted from Customs import duties and the Customs Processing Fee for a period of two months. I wish to be clear that the imposition of a price ceiling on the Covid-19 Basket of Goods is a temporary relief measure that will be in effect for a period of 6 months.

$4m Waiver of Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Tax for March and deferral of payments for 3 months: The Government will also waive Accommodations Tax (HRTT) for the month of March 2020 and will delay payments for May and June 2020. The projected revenue foregone and deferred is $4m. The waiver would be contingent on the fact that the taxpayer is current in payments. This initiative would require an amendment to the current HRTT legislation.

Support for Tenants of the TCI Airports Authority: The Government will also be supporting the tenants and will offer a benefit to these businesses.

$35.2m Development Fund: The Government has allocated $35.2m in new Development Fund Projects. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Development Fund allocation for FY 2020/21 has had to be revised downwards from approximately $47.5m to $35.2m.  This reduction of approximately $12.3m will form part of the economic stimulus programme that will be used to help individuals throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands to bridge the gap between the original income levels received, and the reduced income levels that they will now receive as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 virus on the tourism sector which many are employed in.  The reorganization comes at a time when it is envisaged that the projects contained in the programme needed to be prioritized so that they can act as a stimulus to the economy in the event that the world economies go into a recession following the impact of the COVID-19 virus.  The projects therefore that were prioritized will create employment opportunities for Islanders on every island and this would in itself multiply in the economy thus lessening the impact of any recession. The government will be working with contractors and through policy initiatives will seek to ensure that citizens are hired under these projects.

In addition to the new projects proposed for FY 2020/21, there is approximately $30m in projects that will be carried forward from FY 2019/20. With the amount of projects being implemented throughout the islands, money will continue to multiply and consumer spending will increase and act as a stimulus to the economy.

We would also like to remind the general public of NHIP provision, that allows the unemployed to continue to procure access to TCI’s health facilities for a period of 18 months. All the employee has to do is register with Labour and NHIP.

We are aware that the current COVID-19 crisis is evolving. As such Your Government will be providing exemptions for a three-month period to assist with boosting inward investment. The initiatives would include:

  1. A Reduction of 50% in Stamp Duty for a period of three months
  2. A 50% of reduction of planning fees for a period of three months
  3. A waiver of Customs Duties on Construction Materials for a period of three months

And there will be a review of same after this initial period.

In addition to what the Government is doing, the survival measures also include myself, the Ministry of Finance team and other Ministers and government officials: Liaising with the banks and utility and telecommunication companies.

I am pleased to say that the Banks have agreed to

  • Allow a moratorium of up to six months’ payment on existing loans and mortgages
  • Allow a temporary overdraft financing for Commercial Banking and Business Banking customers. This relief was requested by larger businesses and we are happy to have been able to petition the bank to allow an increase to financing with less red tape. 

The Provo Water Company’s Response: the PWC has agreed that there will be no disconnections ….

The Telecommunications Sector Response

FLOW has agreed a NO Disconnection Policy and are prepared to offer additional measures. We are still negotiating with Digicel who have said that they are exploring initiatives to support its customers at this time.

The Electricity Service Provider

Fortis TCI has agreed to:

    • Wave all Penalties for 60 days.
    • Work with all persons most impacted and extend credit packages. They will likewise work with customers referred by Social Services Department and will also be extended on a case by case basis

I am also pleased to advise that through negotiations with His Excellency the Governor, TCIG and Fortis TCI it was agreed to a delay of the rate increase for a period of 3 months. I must encourage persons that even though this was agreed and they should still try to pay if they have the means and are able to pay.

Appeal to Benefactors of TCIG led Negotiations with Private Companies

We have given a direct cash injection to individuals and businesses, we have addressed your water, light and internet service providers on your behalf, we have addressed Banks for those who hold mortgages or who wish to excess increase financing with less red tape. 

Appeal to Landlords

We are asking landlords to be considerate and do not evict tenants during this period and like my Barbadian counterpart has said, this is a request that I am prepared to follow up in Law. 

We have negotiated for all impacted sectors and we ask that you do the right thing: whether you are employers or employees.

$2m Additional Health Care Spending: $2m is being made available to the Ministry of Health to ensure that health-related spending is available to protect people’s wellbeing, take care of the sick, and slow the spread of the virus.   The Turks and Caicos Islands Government Contingency Fund has been increased to $7m.

It is important to note that this stimulus-package is not intended to replace all of the earnings and can never replace the earning of individuals or establishments. The intention is to ensure that as a Government we try our best to provide some assistance which can help in easing the financial pressure. As a Government we would want to do more. However, we are not sure how long this crisis will last and we must therefore be prepared for the long-haul. We will do our part in ensuring that persons are able to survive. If things get worst, we will take a further look at the capital program and other aspects of the recurrent budget to provide further injection.  I must remind us that we are and will always be a resilient people and there is that ever familiar saying that “tough times don’t last; tough people do”. These are indeed tough times but I have confidence that we will use that level of resilience that we have used in the past whether for hurricanes or economic turmoil to take us through this test and I have no doubt that we will emerge victorious. 

We have been bold on health and we have taken bold steps to help our people and our economy. Your Government will run a deficit budget of $103.1m, draw on $73m savings initially, draw on an already in place loan facility of $15m; secure a credit line facility while offering this $80.2m Stimulus Package with direct cash injection of $45m in grants and waivers. And all in the face of having to maintain Government’s obligations to its staff levels and the people of this country through the continued provision of critical services and as we continue preparation for a new hurricane season in 2 months. I must say thank you to HE the Governor and the UK Government for the approvals to relax the UK Framework Document, to allow a deficit budget and to seek a credit line. 

I encourage us all to partner in this crisis by heeding health’s advice, obeying the laws in place particularly the curfew set and which begins at 8pm TONIGHT, support the Police in their efforts and protect yourselves and others. We are in a crisis and it is known and proven that crises are not wasted when it brings out the best in us. You have in your Government a strong partner in crisis and we look forward to your partnership. 

God is still good. He has kept us all along and through many hardships and I am confident that He will continue to do so.

As leader of this country, I am calling this country to a time of fasting and prayer on Monday, March 30, 2020 from 6am to 6pm. Pastors from across the TCI will be invited to pray over Radio Turks and Caicos. Please prepare to join in. 

May this Great God of Deliverance and Mercy continue to bless us all and may God He continue to bless these Beautiful by Nature Turks and Caicos Islands.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S COVID-19 UPDATE #15

The Ministry of Health would like to advise the public that as at 12pm on 27th March, 2020:

The number of confirmed positive cases remains unchanged at two (2) cases.

There has also been no change in the number of suspected cases over the past 24hrs; the TCI has 10 suspected cases of COVID-19: Tourist visiting the country (1). The other nine suspected cases are TCI residents returning from countries with local transmission and contacts of a confirmed case (9). All 10 persons met the WHO case definition for a suspected case of COVID-19, thus they are experiencing symptoms. Samples have been collected and sent for testing.

Persons under quarantine/observation increased slightly (306)—The confirmed cases (2), contacts of a confirmed case (13), possible contact of a confirmed case (26), the suspected cases (10), persons under investigation for having contact with persons travelling from highly affected countries (1), relatives/contacts of suspected cases (21), persons travelling from highly affected countries — UK, Austria & Spain (6), TCI residents (227). Persons under observation/quarantine are all not displaying symptoms or have not meet the case definition for COVID-19.

The increase in quarantine/observation numbers over the past 24hrs was primarily as a result of the contacts of a confirmed case and possible contacts of a confirmed case being placed in quarantine status.

No test results were received over the past 24hrs, and the total number of test results received to date remains at fourteen (14); with twelve (12) confirmed negative and one (2) positive confirmation. Confirmed positive cases are in isolation with contact tracing aggressively continuing.

Please note the following definitions:

  • A suspected person is someone who meets the case definition as outlined by WHO and CARPHA - and is experiencing symptoms.
  • A person in quarantine is an individual on island who has come from infected country(ies) or may have come in proximity to suspected or confirmed cases - and have not exhibited symptoms.

Let's continue to reduce the risk by: 1. Washing our hands for 20secs or more 2. Practicing social distancing 3. Prepare your home, office and other surroundings by following the advice of the Ministry of Health and other credible health agencies.

For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health website, www.gov.tc/moh/coronavirus; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or call our hotline numbers, (649) 232-9444 and (649) 333-0911, if you or someone you know has symptoms or signs of COVID-19.

GOVERNORS ADDRESS REGARDING EMPLOYERS AND CARERS REGISTERING THEIR STAFF TO SUPPORT THEIR MOVEMENT

Well done TCI. We did collectively well last night. By 8:15 pm there was almost nothing on the roads on our most populated island. By 9 pm all there was, were the blue flashing lights of road blocks and patrols. Some arrests and vehicle confiscations, but very few needed. I know - and you can now be confident - that we are going to get through this calmly, sensibly and collaboratively.

Today you as employers, employees and as families will be doing your final preparations for what will be an extraordinary three weeks. The three weeks you saved the Islands. That’s what you are about to do.

While you prepare today the central national security team will be working at pace to ensure the Police have one centralised database – that will be accessed from the CCTV suite – that Police Officers can use to clarify whether someone, under the law, is an essential worker or in an essential industry. It’s designed to help the Island make a good collective judgement on this. It’s designed to give those who we rely on confidence that they can go to their place of work backstopped by permission sought by their employer and agreed by the government.

The central team will work through the night and weekend and our aim is, by the time we move to daylight on Monday, to have replied to the vast majority of emails; the database will be in place and operational. Over the weekend the Police will use their judgement, please as employers and employees use yours.

If you haven’t received a reply by first light on Monday then you must assume that you have not yet been recorded on the database; we however assure you we will reply to every email with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.

If you send a question to this email account that is anything other than a request from an employer or carer it won’t be answered; we won’t have time over the weekend. Our priority is to get essential workers and carers able to move confidently but under tight control for the good of all.

If you are an employer or a carer I’m going to give you an email address in a moment, the same as I gave yesterday and last night, to send us the list of names you believe fall into this category. Have a pen or a way of recording it to hand. We will also post it on the Ministry of Health’s website: www.gov.tc/moh/coronavirus.  

I’m first going to repeat what I said last night.

For employers, we want you to be highly responsible in the numbers you offer up. We are stopping a pandemic. We have a three week window to do this. We are not looking to ‘tick over’. This isn’t how we work after a hurricane has hit us, we are going to start off by working as though a hurricane is about to hit us. Imagine a Category 5 travelling towards us.

Each additional person you add to your list increases the overall risk to the community. If you are not responsible – as an employer - you risk many, many, people doing the right thing for three weeks which in the end serves no purpose. If your list contains ten employees – if one of them falls ill – we risk infecting ten households.

We therefore intend to start off very hard, giving very limited numbers of names agreement and granting very few exceptions.    Again, since many of you have been in this position – imagine we are, just now, in the immediate pre-impact phase of a hurricane – that’s how much we want to stop or slow down activity over the first few days so we can control this.

Once controlled we will slightly open the valve. The list will be dynamic. But it’s much better we do it this way. Keep your initial requests limited. We do not need the equivalency of panic buying of names and exemptions.

We will be much more sympathetic to short very well considered lists that get you through, say, Monday – Wednesday - which we can then adjust - than a list that captures every possible person over three weeks. I assure you - once we are in lockdown we will have the ability to adjust the list 24/7. It’s in our interests to do so.

For employers of essential staff, or for employers of essential industries detailed in the regulations, and for those providing essential ‘care’ to those who absolutely can’t care for themselves, write down the following:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Now send an email very clearly saying:

  1. Who you are as an employer plus your contact details
  2. What category you fall in
  3. The full names and responsibilities of those you wish to be able to work during the first few days of lockdown
  4. What times of day, which days, and in what areas your employees will be moving in.
  5. If you are a restaurant or takeaway where you are, what you are offering, how you intend to do all you can to be responsible.
  6. The likelihood that you will need to add to this list and why.
  7. Confirming if your employees wear uniform.
  8. Confirming your employees have photo ID.
  9. If you are a carer as much information as you can provide as to where, when and how you will be providing care.

I’m going to say that all again. The email address is:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Send an email very clearly saying:

  1. Who you are as an employer plus your contact details
  2. What category you fall in
  3. The full names and responsibilities of those you wish to be able to work during the first few days of lockdown
  4. What times of day, which days, and in what areas your employees will be moving in.
  5. If you are a restaurant or takeaway where you are, what you are offering, how you intend to do all you can to be responsible.
  6. The likelihood that you will need to add to this list and why.
  7. Confirming if your employees wear uniform
  8. Confirming your employees have photo ID.
  9. If you are a carer as much information as you can provide as to where, when and how you will be providing care.

As well as this announcement that will be repeated today, at times RTC announce, we will get this up on websites and circulating on social media.

Finally bear in mind that although tight restrictions come in from tomorrow you will still be able to shop in the supermarkets. Don’t rush today – there is no need. Tomorrow - Saturday - is for lots of good reasons - a day traditionally when supermarkets are busy. Again, break that habit too.   You will – I assure you - have plenty of time over the coming weeks to visit food stores responsibly.

I’ll issue some separate guidance about how we want to ensure that this requirement to visit a supermarket – or take exercise - doesn’t become a catch all excuse that can be used by those who wish to be on the road and moving about the islands on other business.

To repeat don’t flood the email account This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with frivolous requests; I might publish some of the most egregious examples of those who clearly haven’t worked out we are fighting a global pandemic. And don’t think that your normal life isn’t going to be seriously and significantly disrupted and changed – it’s going to be - because that’s the way we are going to stop this menace. But it’s only for three weeks. Just three weeks.

Great start TCI – use the day to prepare. Looking forward to exactly the same responsible behaviour tonight at 8 pm. 

CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO VERSION

 

MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S COVID-19 UPDATE #14

The Ministry of Health would like to advise the public that as at 12pm on 26th March, 2020:

TCI recorded its second confirmed case of the COVID-19 novel Coronavirus, and the individual is now receiving medical care at the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre. The Ministry of Health takes this opportunity to continue emphasizing the need for public calm during this time.

There was a decrease in suspected cases, as the TCI recorded 10 suspected cases of COVID-19: Tourist visiting the country (1). The other nine suspected cases are TCI residents returning from countries with local transmission and contacts of a confirmed case (9). All 10 persons met the WHO case definition for a suspected case of COVID-19, thus they are experiencing symptoms. Samples have been collected and sent for testing.

The decrease in suspected cases is due to test results received, where one suspected case has now been confirmed positive and another suspected case confirmed to be negative for COVID-19.

Persons under quarantine/observation (298)—The confirmed cases (2), contacts of a confirmed case (10), possible contact of a confirmed case (21), the suspected cases (10), persons under investigation for having contact with persons travelling from highly affected countries (1), relatives/contacts of suspected cases (21), persons travelling from highly affected countries — UK, Austria & Spain (6), TCI residents (227). Persons under observation/quarantine are all not displaying symptoms or have not meet the case definition for COVID-19.

The decrease in quarantine/observation numbers over the past 24hrs was primarily as a result of TCI of test results received which confirmed that a suspected case did not have COVID-19, and their contacts subsequently being moved from quarantine status.

A total of twelve (14) test results have been received to date, with twelve (12) confirmed negative and one (2) positive confirmation. As stated above, persons confirmed not to have COVID-19, and their contacts, have been moved from quarantined status and asked to continue following proper guidelines from the Ministry of Health. Those confirmed positive cases are in isolation with contact tracing aggressively continuing.

Please note the following definitions:

  • A suspected person is someone who meets the case definition as outlined by WHO and CARPHA - and is experiencing symptoms.
  • A person in quarantine is an individual on island who has come from infected country(ies) or may have come in proximity to suspected or confirmed cases - and have not exhibited symptoms.

Let's continue to reduce the risk by: 1. Washing our hands for 20secs or more 2. Practicing social distancing 3. Prepare your home, office and other surroundings by following the advice of the Ministry of Health and other credible health agencies.

For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health website, www.gov.tc/moh/coronavirus; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or call our hotline numbers, (649) 232-9444 and (649) 333-0911, if you or someone you know has symptoms or signs of COVID-19.