enfrhtptes

GOVERNOR’S ADDRESS: ENTERING PHASE ONE POST COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

Thank you Premier, Good evening Turks and Caicos.

In supporting the Premier, I thought I’d make three points this evening. The first is to say something – from my perspective - about Emergency Regulations. Second, to say something about the UK’s support during this time on national security and health and finally to close with the two really big points both the Premier and I want to make sure have landed with you.

First, I want to amplify what the Premier has said, in my own words, around the State of Emergency, its genesis and how it’s been operating.

Your elected representatives realised early on – not least drawing on their experience of dealing with the 2017 hurricanes - the extraordinary nature of what we faced and also recognised they had to move rapidly and decisively. The route to do that was through the Governor’s Emergency Powers.  I think the results that were achieved – and that we witness today - justified that first decisive act by your elected representatives.

The TCI is fortunate amongst the Overseas Territories that it has a modern Constitution which bounds Emergency Powers within an accountable and democratic framework. Two examples of this. The first is the proclamation of Emergency Powers expires after a month and must be renewed. The second, is that any regulations made under Emergency Powers (and the oddity of Emergency Powers is that it is the Executive that creates the law) is that those regulations expire after 21 days if they are not put before the Parliament and must be confirmed by the legislature.

It’s that part of the Constitution that I believe gave your elected Government confidence that these powers could be used on your behalf – on the nation’s behalf. Worth saying we have just revisited whether those powers are still required and – at the elected Governments request – we have collectively agreed to extend them to 1 June when we will review again.  Our intention is that these powers lapse as soon as is possible.

This ask from the elected government to utilise Emergency Powers on behalf of the people - not have these Emergency Powers imposed on them - was particularly important to me because it was obvious from the very onset of this pandemic that this was going to be a slow burn and long term crisis and that it would have very serious impacts on the people of these Islands. The democratic legitimacy of the government of the day – who are accountable to their electorate – seemed to me to be essential if the public were to be involved as serious partners in this great challenge we face.

As a result, since the introduction of Emergency Powers there has been no deviation in the way normal Cabinet and ministerial government has functioned. There’s been no need to change the way we govern because Cabinet remains the best possible way to make decisions during this time.

All decisions in Cabinet have been by consensus and all proposals put to Cabinet have come from the elected ministers talking to their portfolios; Health – under the Honourable Edwin Astwood - has clearly been very much in the lead.  My chairing of Cabinet has been exactly that – as it has been from my first day – a facilitating role to help the government of the day achieve their lawful objectives.

And so to my second point, the UK offer. 

Where I think the Governor’s Office has been helpful in supporting this health emergency has been through the constitutional responsibilities the Governor has on internal and national security. And it is important to stress that this remains a health crisis; not a national security crisis.  ‘Health’ is, and will remain, an issue devolved and controlled by the local government and therefore local government leads during this crisis.

What has again been helpful, even in terms of supporting the national security offer to this health emergency, is the shared approach to leadership on national security by the Governor’s and Premier’s Office. We have been using newly established national security structures and a whole of government approach has been quickly developed.

We have been working together to increase our Police Force by 31 special constables who have been sworn in from Immigration, Customs and DECR which have helped – more than helped – enforce the lockdown and curfew and also bring all our maritime assets together under the Maritime Police.

As of yesterday evening – and with the full moral support of the TCI Government - we now have a total of 47 British military personnel on the island and two UK Police Officers. Reinforcements – of 29 royal marines who arrived last night from Four-Five Commando in Scotland – and who started quarantine today - will be in direct support of our counter-illegal immigration operations and are here to ensure - over the coming months - we stop illegal entry from Haiti during this time of COVID-19 emergency. As you’d expect the UK is paying for this deployment and support.

The military team that is already on the Island – and now out of quarantine – put in the groundwork to allow this reinforcement but have also been working in close collaboration with the hospital and Ministry of Health looking to help us build capacity at the hospitals while logisticians have been helping set up a hub here in TCI which provides us with a land bridge for vital supplies coming from the UK.

With regard to on-island testing capability – a PCR machine’ arrives with us soon gifted by the UK. That provides TCI with a very significant capacity for gold-plated clinical testing. The UK is also sending out an extremely hard to source Cepheid Testing Machine which can very rapidly test for the virus to a clinical standard but in smaller numbers.

On the same flight should come six ventilators – with four more to follow – and other vital medical supplies. Much Personal Protection Equipment has already been delivered. A key component for testing, that globally is in short supply, “swabs” arrived with the military yesterday. When you are down to your last 100 the arrival of 2,800 is welcome news.

Now to my final point.  You know the virus is here on the islands and had you done nothing you also know what the virus would have done to our community.

You have seen the havoc it has delivered in my own country where over 26,000 are now dead. That is only counting the dead in the Hospitals.  An unknown but very significant figure – in the many thousands – have died in care homes for the elderly.

Once it grips you know how it spreads:  at a rate of one person infecting around 2.2 people. I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating. One case becomes two, two becomes four, four becomes eight, but because it’s an ‘R’ number – a reproduction number - not just of ‘two’ but of ‘2.2’, eight becomes seventeen and seventeen becomes thirty-seven and so on.  Just one uncontrolled case could have overwhelmed our health capacity in a heart-beat.

But you stopped that.  You did it!   The rate of 2.2, the Minister of Health tells us, is now down to less than ‘one’. That’s a critical figure in terms of us being able to start to gently ease restrictions.

In congratulating ourselves let’s also be crystal clear – it doesn’t mean the virus is not present. It does not mean the virus has in some sense ‘given up’.  The virus remains here in TCI. There is, if you like, still an invisible ‘tiger’ stalking the streets and as we lift off we have to do so treating that fact with respect, and being prepared to quickly step back if the medical advice is that we should step back.  No problem if we do that, so long as we do it.

To use the analogy of driving a car, what we did around the 26th and 27th of March is we conducted an ‘emergency stop’. We slammed on the brakes and brought the vehicle to a rapid, controlled but dramatic halt.

What we now need to do – knowing the road remains dangerous, is to look in our rear-view mirrors, indicate properly, put the car in first gear, and very gently start to pull away knowing we can stop again – if we need to – but less violently and less aggressively because the vehicle is now travelling at a slow speed not foot down on the accelerator.

Yet while the vehicle is travelling slowly we can at least be certain it is travelling firmly in the right direction and to our destination. For the avoidance of doubt that destination is a vibrant tourism offer that tells the world that TCI is not only the most beautiful destination in the world but the safest destination in the world and if you are ‘safe’ you can come here, and we are going to look after you, like no other, because we know how to do that in this new “COVID19 normal”.

However before the Premier and myself sign off – and this is the first time we have been in the same room for months although we talk many times every day - we both want to reinforce – two final messages that guide all others.

First: the virus remains in the community. It will remain for a long time. We are now just entering the phase where we are going to have to start to learn to live with it. You now know – because you’ve been living a very different life - how you can live your lives differently and keep yourselves safe. You’ve been practicing for six weeks and you’ve adjusted your lives to take this into account.

Gently restarting the economy is far more complex than stopping it. To date, to help you make the right decisions – the law and the police - plus detailed exemptions issued by my office – have acted as handrails.

But as we start to now lift off these laws, regulations and exemptions are far too blunt an instrument to take into account every nuance. What will now save us, is you doing what we’ve seen you do – be extraordinarily responsible.

Social distancing is critical in this regard. If someone infects you, it will be because social distancing was not observed. Stay safe by staying distant.  Reduce your risk by serious hand washing. If you are covering your face – in anyway – you are seriously reducing the risk to yourself and to others.

Don’t mistake here what we are collectively attempting to achieve: alleviating some of the growing poverty in the island by gently restarting the economy and allowing a little more recreational space for our overall mental wellbeing. We are not going back to normal. We are not saying the island is safe. We are saying we are all taking a managed risk that we may need to retreat from.

So this isn’t now the moment to travel across the Island to let cousins play with each other.  This isn’t the time to bring multiple households – albeit in one extended family group – together - under one roof - to celebrate a birthday. Continue to look after your family by being very (very) cautious. This is the very best thing you can do for your family.

Second, this virus does not discriminate in terms of who it infects but, wholly unfairly, there is a discrimination in who it impacts the most. It is the elderly and those with an underlying condition that weakens their immune system. If I’m describing you, you are the most important people we have in society. You are the people we really must protect.

If even a small group of you were to fall ill at the same time we do not have the health capacity on this Island to care for you properly – and it’s a feature of almost every country that if there is an outbreak amongst the elderly and vulnerable the health care of even the most sophisticated economy cannot cope.

If you are in this group you really must make sure that you continue to observe the lockdown and the curfew. We do not intend to legislate that you ‘must’ – we see that as an over-reach in discriminatory powers – but we put the onus on you to do the right thing for yourself and for society by being hyper careful.

And if you are an employer of a person in this category we put a very heavy moral burden on you – not just in terms of protecting your employee but protecting the health care system for all - to do everything you can – including adjusting their job description if needed during this extraordinary time – to give them the opportunity to contribute to your business – or to government business – by staying at home.

With those two extraordinarily important points made let me end by saying this.

Monday 4th May is only the end of many phases that we will have to go through. For some this period will have had relatively little impact. But for many, and in many different ways, it was a period of tremendous hardship.

Because the virus didn’t grip and because the virus didn’t take-off, it may appear to you to have been far more about ‘pain’ than ‘gain’. That is emphatically not the case. You did a great job TCI in fighting back; in not allowing TCI to be a victim. Of giving us the best possible launch pad to start moving forward. Because from 4th May that is the now direction of travel: forward and upward.

But if we are to call this virus our enemy – and it seems to me that is not stretching the point to do that – that enemy is not dead – it is just seriously wounded. A seriously wounded enemy is still a threat and it needs our constant vigilance – as individuals, as families, as communities and as a nation, as we head to a future where the island again flourishes.

Serious Social Distancing, hygiene and covering our faces – in an improvised way if needed – is our defence. Common sense and social responsibility are the orders of the day. While we do that the Ministry of Health and hospital will continue to build; let’s now step carefully forward together - into the next phase - confident of what we did, prepared to step back if we have to, but knowing now it’s our own judgement – our own integrity - not ‘law and regulation’ - that will keep us truly safe. 

God bless you all, and good night TCI.

PREMIER'S NATIONAL COVID-19 ADDRESS

Good Afternoon Turks and Caicos! 

The Turks and Caicos Islands is at a critical juncture in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  I am firmly of the view that if Cabinet had not made the decisions it did those being: introducing Emergency Regulations and a curfew to enforce a significant degree of social distancing; these Islands would now be experiencing the level of transmission and Covid-19 related deaths as set out in previous 'reasonable worst-case scenario' modelling similar to what we see in some countries in the region and around the World.  

The Important Role of the People 

But what is most important in this experience is the role that you the people have played to flatten the curve. Your sacrifices have made important gains possible, and as a people, we are indeed in a much better place because of it.  

This has been an encouraging period, one that we can be proud of. Despite the rather unfortunate actions of a few, as a people, we have come together towards a single important goal. As we look around, we see what the irresponsible actions of a few have cost countries, but our experience shows that when we each behave responsibly and collectively, we can achieve the best outcomes.    

Regulations 

Let me repeat though, as I said on Tuesday, we may have successfully mitigated Covid-19, but we have not avoided it, and we have not removed the threat of the virus to our population.  Emergency Regulations and your responsible action have simply bought us time to allow the Ministry of Health (MoH), in partnership with Inter Health Canada (IHC), to strengthen our healthcare system and enhance the capacity and capabilities it has to respond to this pandemic. 

The decision as to what comes next is not a decision that anyone in the position of leadership at this time has taken lightly. We remain guided by the main principle that life-saving measures must take precedence over the economy, and this alone is not an easy decision but a right one for political leaders across the globe. While we have to balance these two important and sometimes opposing determinants, we wish to assure you the people that this approach remains heavily based on Ministry of Health’s advice. 

Following a 2 - day meeting ending yesterday after an 11hr session, Cabinet finalised a position on the way forward with our Health heads present and under their guidance. These meetings were of course preceded by a series of meetings where a wealth of information has been shared over the past weeks. Our position taken was based on the following:  

  1. An understanding of a clear and informed view of the readiness of the healthcare system in the Turks and Caicos Islands to respond to an uptick in cases that the relaxation in regulations would inevitably see; 
  2. The support for rapid development and implementation of a whole-of-TCI testing strategy; and 
  3.  The fact that this is an unpredictable situation and that any decisions made must continuously be reviewed appreciating that there may be times when Health's advice will be to consider a roll back. 

Cabinet has agreed to a phased reopening of the country beginning 4th May.  

Let me, first of all, describe what is not going to change: 

  • First, international travel will remain closed until (at least) 1st June.  I will be establishing a stakeholder engagement group with the hospitality sector – guided by Health – to support and inform the work that will be required to start to reopen the islands to international tourism;  
  • A night-time curfew will remain in place from 8pm – 5am each day, and this shall continue until 5am on Monday 25th May;  
  • All businesses will be closed on a Sunday and Sunday will remain a day of lockdown and curfew. Wednesday will revert to a normal working day.  
  • Persons over the age of 65 years are to continue to shelter in place;  
  • Persons with underlying health conditions are very strongly encouraged to shelter in place this includes working from home wherever possible;  
  • All businesses, unless otherwise exempted, should continue to work and operate from home; 
  • Schools and educational institutions will remain closed until 1st June, with the use of virtual learning to keep students engaged – this will remain under review;  
  • Restrictions in respect of domestic travel will continue until 1st June, with the exception of Salt Cay and Grand Turk which is considered as one island community, and Middle Caicos and North Caicos as another island community.   
  • Those who need to return to their home islands from Providenciales cannot do so yet, but this will become available once on-island testing is established and persons can be tested, and quarantined if necessary, before their return;  
  • The Cruise Port will remain closed until 30th June. This decision will remain under review and will follow advice from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation. 
  • Penalties for publication of false statements will remain as mandated. 
  • A duty to provide information to Health Officials will remain as mandated. 
  • Application to Justice of the Peace will remain as mandated. 

What is going to change: 

  • A limited number of key government departments will reopen on May 11, 2020, to provide critical services to the country.  This will be done on the basis of a reduced staffing and customer service plan that allows for appropriate social distancing.  TCIG’s model will be used as the basis for guidelines for statutory bodies and businesses, and TCIG will lead the way in demonstrating how a responsible employer behaves. A list of offices will be announced in a separate release.  
  • All retail grocery stores are able to open from 11 May; Public and Environmental Health will bring together guidance for this industry in advance. Spot checks by Environmental Health will have the power to close any business immediately if protocols are not being met and Police may do the same if they identify social distancing protocols are not being adhered to.  
  • Hardware stores will be permitted to open beginning the week of 4th May once these establishments meet the protocols established by the Public and Environmental Health Department. These businesses will assist homeowners in DIY projects around the home as well as in the preparation of homes for the hurricane season commencing June 1st. 
  • Construction and hardware stores will be permitted to open from week commencing 11th May. There will be Government-led engagement with the Construction Sector following the issuance of draft guidelines from the Public and Environment Health Department within the next few days.  Related supply businesses, including electrical, plumbing, etc.; stores and ancillary businesses are expected to begin opening during the week beginning 11th May in support of the construction industry. 
  • Restaurants that choose to provide a takeaway service and 'takeaways' are permitted to open for takeaway only commencing May 11th, with careful protocols in place including strict social distancing.  Public and Environmental Health will issue guidance in advance and will be making unannounced spot visits.  Public Health and Police will have the power to close a business immediately if they feel the establishment or surroundings are unsafe;  
  • So long as strict social distancing can be observed, office-based services will be permitted to operate with four or fewer persons in the office at a time.  In terms of duty of care to their staff, we expect employers to make the case to themselves and their staff as to why someone should require a physical presence in the workplace rather than vice-versa.  Employers should also follow Government's lead and look to implement shift work and to ensure that staff work in the smallest groups possible to achieve the recommended physical distance in the workplace and reduce any chance of cross-contamination. 
  • Self-sustaining fishermen will be permitted to undertake those activities to support and sustain their families through their businesses. That may start on 4th May; 
  • Physical distancing protocols will remain in place.  However, we now mandate the wearing of masks or improvised face coverings when engaged in public to avoid the transfer of droplets while in conversation, business, or when in close proximity to others. 
  • Churches should remain virtual, but from Sunday 10th May, they may have up to ten persons in Church. Those persons should be actively involved in the delivery of the service. Social distancing protocols must be adhered to.   
  • Attendance at funeral services is also limited to ten persons. 
  • Other social gatherings remain restricted. 
  • Use of beaches and individual watersports can resume from 4th May for the purposes of fitness and recreation.  Strictly no gathering of over four adults may occur, and any gathering must consist of only those living in one household. No alcohol should be taken onto or consumed on the beach.   
  • As of 4th May individual fitness is allowed at any time outside the hours of curfew. This does not include any form of team sport. You may drive to your place of outdoor exercise, which may include the beach, should you wish to. 
  • Restriction on visitation continues until 1st June 2020 in the following cases:   

  No person shall visit or be permitted to visit— 

  • any place of quarantine or isolation station; 
  • a patient in a hospital or facility, except a responsible adult in the case of  a child; 
  • residential care establishment; 
  • however, there must be access by video link, audio/phone for attorneys at the detention centre(s), prisons and police cells 
  • Extremely limited visitation can be considered for the following with the appropriate application of social distancing due to the vulnerability of these populations; 
  • a detainee in a detention centre(s), prisons or police cells.  

In conclusion, there is now no requirement to apply for exemptions to the Governor's Office. The 911 database that has been developed will be kept should there be a requirement to revert to present lockdown and curfew conditions. We are grateful to the team that worked so hard and fast to both facilitate and control essential movement during this vital period. 

Medical Gains 

A carefully planned, transparent and evidence-based approach to releasing the restrictions was needed. This could not have been achieved without both prioritising public health and considering the wider economic health and health needs of the territory and its population. This approach remains critical to managing the whole impact of Covid-19, and we remain committed to carefully considering the individual health outcomes, the pressure on the healthcare system and longer-term economic position of the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

The Ministry of Health continues to provide the nation with daily updates via the dashboard which is published on the Ministry of Health's website and other platforms in order to update the general public on the status of Covid-19 within the country.  I am happy to share the latest update which is being published 30th April. 

To date there have been: 

12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 

4 suspected cases  

5 active cases  

5 recoveries 

The total number of persons tested to date is 101. 

The last new case of Covid-19 was reported 25th April 2020, and prior to this, it was ten days before on April 15th. 

Positive Gains: 

During the past few weeks, great focus has been placed on procuring: 

  1. additional personal protection equipment (PPEs) 
  2. in-country testing capability; and 
  3. additional medical capacity through personnel and physical hospital uplift. 
  1. Additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were secured – We have been successful in storing up our supplies of personal protective equipment for front line workers including the hospital and health staff and have advanced distribution to each department throughout the islands. This will go a long way in protecting these staff. A large shipment was received from Public Health England last week along with additional PPE from local and international vendors which have been procured by the MOH. 
  2. PCR Equipment – We are in possession of one PCR machine for testing and anticipate the arrival of a second machine within the next week from the UK. We have also received additional swab and testing kits to be utilised with these machines. Additional supplies and materials to support local testing are on the way. 
  3. Additional medical staff are being sourced to ensure that there is sufficient surge capacity within the Ministry of Health and TCI Hospitals. An agreement has been made with Cuba and is being advanced for 20 persons to assist TCI. The delegation will consist of 9 medical specialists, ten registered nurses and one administrative support staff. In addition, Crown Agents through Public Health England have identified additional medical specialists and nurses who are being recruited through TCIG.  
  4. An agreement is underway to expand bed spaces at the Hospital to provide additional capacity. Work is about to commence and complete works over the coming weeks to use the outpatient department to provide an additional 12 beds by installing the relevant piping for oxygen and other upgrades. Funding has also been made available to procure oxygen generators to ensure sufficient oxygen is available for the additional ten ventilators which are on order through the UK; 6 of which will be in country next week. 
  5. A Testing Strategy was approved by Cabinet. This strategy will come into effect with the commencement of in-country testing. 
  6. A Masks Policy was also approved at Cabinet. It outlined the use of medical masks for frontline workers and emphasized the need for n95 masks to be reserved for front line health care workers managing Covid-19 confirmed individuals in accordance with WHO guidance. The policy also mandates face covering for the general public. While we agree that the use of face covering in the community may primarily serve as a means of source control, I wish to state clearly that the use of non-medical face masks in the community should be considered only as a complementary measure and not as a replacement for established preventive measures, for example physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, good hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes and mouth. I wish to applaud those industrious business men and women who have begun to make cloth masks, and I encourage us to support them. 

During this time of the national lockdown, much has been achieved by the broad compliance of the general population with the guidance which has been issued by the Government. I am very proud of everyone for heeding the advice given, especially as it relates to the shelter in place order and curfew. With that being said, by reducing contact between persons through social distancing, sheltering in place, closure of the international and domestic borders, we have managed to slow the spread of Covid-19 within our populations. 

We have seen what Covid-19 can do in countries which have been slow or unsuccessful in implementing these public health measures and what a devastating impact it can have on individuals, families and the wider society. We have much to be proud of, but we still have a long way to go before life can return to any semblance of normality. 

Social distancing, enhanced hygiene measures such as frequent hand washing, cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, covering our coughs and sneezes and staying home when suffering from cough, fever and shortness of breath should now become second nature to each one of us if we want to continue to build on the gains we have made during this period of lockdown. We still need your help and your compliance. We still have a duty to protect the vulnerable and please stay home where possible. 

CONCLUSION 

We are taking a phased approach to reopen certain sectors while we monitor the impact of these sectors on the spread of the virus. As mentioned earlier, this may require a quick rollback where necessary. The start date and the allowable activities in the next phase of the reopening will as always continue to be guided by Health.  

We should acknowledge the fact that this pandemic will continue to impact daily life in the Turks and Caicos Islands until the end of this year with a roadmap to an 'end-state' likely to stretch well into 2021.  This presents a clear and compound risk of managing both Covid-19 and the hurricane season. 

Accepting that this position and restarting the international tourist economy do not need to be mutually exclusive; welcoming back international tourists is a key milestone on this roadmap.  This paper does not consider the opening of borders nor an approach to resuming the tourist industry, both of which are the subject of a separate and urgent whole-of-sector engagement. Our airport and protocols are being assiduously addressed even ahead of the stakeholder engagement. We are cognizant of the fact that this will not and cannot be business as usual. We are also watching closely, our source markets. 

Caution was adopted when considering purely economic drivers around the release of curfew restrictions.  This may seem counterintuitive, but prematurity - the destabilising impact of subsequent waves of outbreaks and the pressure on TCI's healthcare system – would extend our cross-territory recovery time and delay the critical date when we are able to restart our international tourist economy. This is the 'next normal'. 

In entering the 'new normal' as a Government, we take the lives of each and every one of you seriously, and we are grateful again to those who have taken this situation for what it is: a matter of life and death. As a Government, we wish to assure you that we remain ready to act and react decisively, to the epidemic. This means being prepared to re-enact full restrictions should that be required. We will continue to have clear and simple solutions and directives so that the public and businesses can understand them and to consistency in measures taken 

We value the confidence placed in our leadership guided by Health which is evidenced by the high compliance we saw over the past few weeks and will not willfully or negligently misplace or jeopardise this trust. Likewise, we have gained confidence in you, and we ask that this mutual trust not be violated.  

Again on behalf of the people of this country I wish to thank HMG for the support through Public Health England, the Ministry of Defence UK, and the Foreign Commonwealth Office generally. We have found in our Governor, an avid supporter, advocate and a true partner. This partnership is based on mutual respect and the fact that we all have to live with the decisions that we make. This partnership ought to assure our people that there is oneness in our approach, and oneness wins every time.   

Use of Emergency Powers 

A decision has been taken to extend the use of the Emergency Powers Ordinance to June 1st 

Whilst the Emergency Powers Ordinance empowers the Governor to declare a state of emergency in the Islands; it is important to note that the Governor is required to seek advice from the Cabinet, before making a Proclamation.  Section 2 of that Ordinance defines the term "Governor" to mean the Governor acting with the advice of the Cabinet, but not necessarily in accordance with such advice. 

In the case of the Government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the coordination and collaboration of all Cabinet stakeholders was required to address the many issues that arose from the pandemic and imminent risks to the Islands.  In recognition of this reality, His Excellency the Governor and I, as well as all Cabinet colleagues, agreed that the most effective approach would be a collective action.  As such on 20th March 2020 when the state of emergency was declared in the Turks and Caicos Islands, it was announced by the Governor and me as Premier, following a Cabinet meeting during which we discussed the pros and cons of that decision. All major announcements have been done collectively and following decisions taken by the Cabinet.   

The decision to declare a state of public emergency was determined to ensure that the Cabinet could make timely decisions, including the making of legal provisions – through emergency powers regulations – to implement measures to address the issues confronting the Islands.  Through regulations, like other Commonwealth jurisdictions and Overseas Territories, such as Bermuda, we have addressed a wide range of topics including – public health measures, the imposition of a national curfew, the creation of economic relief measures, the creation of stimulus and the continuity of the courts. 

The use of emergency powers is exceptional and only apply in extreme circumstances like we are faced with by this Covid-19 pandemic.  We use these powers to make regulations without going through the lengthier process in the House of Assembly, to take actions without complying with statutory duties that would normally apply, to take action to set aside an Ordinance in order to protect the islands.  Emergency powers allow the government to introduce measures that may affect fundamental rights, such as the right to liberty. These measures can only be introduced in exceptional circumstances and are temporary in nature.  These powers are able to be brought in rapidly in a crisis and are expected to be temporary. 

We are moving into a "new normal", and it is truly a matter of death as to whether we embrace it or not. I encourage us to embrace the "new normal" and while we have announced the first phase of reopening. The next phase will be announced shortly and will be marked by the start of in-country testing, which is also to begin shortly. 

My Government wishes to thank all of you who continue to support us in prayer, and this time requires God's strength and grace more than ever before. It remains our prayer that God continues to bless us and that He continues to bless these beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos Islands.  

MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S COVID-19 UPDATE #51

The Ministry of Health would like to advise the public that as at 12am on 30th April, 2020:

THE COVID-19 POSITION IN THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS CONTINUES TO SEE MODERATE CHANGES.

NO NEW COVID-19 DEATHS HAVE BEEN RECORDED.

CONFIRMED POSITIVE CASES CONTINUE TO REMAIN AT TWELVE (12); WITH FIVE (5) CASES NOW HAVING RECOVERED FROM COVID-19, and one confirmed positive case continuing to remain under hospital care.

THE NUMBER OF SUSPECTED CASES OF COVID-19 HAS INCREASED TO FOUR (4). THE SUSPECTED CASES ARE TCI RESIDENTS EXPERIENCING RELEVANT SYMPTOMS WITHOUT A HISTORY OF CONTACT WITH CONFIRMED CASES. CONTACT TRACING IS CONTINUING. Two suspected cases are currently under hospital care.

All individuals met the WHO case definition for a suspected case of COVID-19. Samples have been collected and sent for testing.

THE QUARANTINE/OBSERVATION NUMBERS HAVE INCREASED TO 75. This includes: the active confirmed cases (patients in the TCI that are currently infected) (5), contacts of confirmed cases (19), indirect contacts of confirmed cases (4), suspected cases (4), relatives/contacts of suspected cases (24), symptomatic persons not meeting the case definition and their contacts (7) and TCI residents returning from a country with local transmission and their contacts (12). ONE PERSON UNDER QUARANTINE, WHO IS NEITHER A SUSPECTED NOR CONFIRMED CASE, IS CURRENTLY HOSPITALIZED. Persons under observation/quarantine are either not displaying symptoms or have not met the case definition for COVID-19.

The change in quarantine/observation numbers are as a result of the quarantine/isolation period expiring for several individuals; and the new suspected case and their contacts being added to quarantine/observation status. TO DATE, 500 individuals have been released from quarantine/observation status.

On 1st April, 2020 the case definition for COVID-19 was amended for TCI; a travel history is no longer needed to fit the criteria. Given the closure of the TCI borders it is likely that new case would be as a result of local transmission.

NO NEW POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE RESULTS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE. To date, the TCI has received a total of one hundred and one (101) test results, with eighty-nine (89) confirmed to be negative and twelve (12) positive confirmations. Persons confirmed not to have COVID-19, and their contacts, were moved from quarantined status and asked to continue following proper guidelines from the Ministry of Health. Those cases confirmed positive are in isolation with contact tracing aggressively continuing.

THE PUBLIC IS HEREBY REMINDED THAT LOCKDOWN MEASURES HAVE BEEN EXTENDED AND YOU ARE TO STAY AT HOME – ONLY LEAVING FOR ESSENTIAL TRAVEL UNDER THE SPECIFIED GUIDANCE.

The Ministry of Health ALSO takes this opportunity to remind the public of offenses committed under section 18 of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 in regard to false Statements/information. You do not have to be the originator of the statement/information in order to be charged under the law.

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.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S COVID-19 UPDATE #50

The Ministry of Health would like to advise the public that as at 12am on 29th April, 2020:

THE COVID-19 POSITION IN THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS HAS SEEN SOME CHANGE SINCE THE PREVIOUS UPDATE AS AT 28th APRIL, 2020.

THE COUNTRY CONTINUES TO RECORD NO NEW COVID-19 DEATHS.

CONFIRMED POSITIVE CASES CONTINUE TO REMAIN AT TWELVE (12); WITH FIVE (5) CASES NOW HAVING RECOVERED FROM COVID-19, and one confirmed positive case continuing to remain under hospital care.

THE NUMBER OF SUSPECTED CASES OF COVID-19 is currently THREE (3). THE SUSPECTED CASES ARE TCI RESIDENTS EXPERIENCING RELEVANT SYMPTOMS WITHOUT A HISTORY OF CONTACT WITH CONFIRMED CASES. CONTACT TRACING IS CONTINUING. Two suspected cases are currently under hospital care.

All individuals met the WHO case definition for a suspected case of COVID-19. Samples have been collected and sent for testing.

THERE ARE CURRENTLY SIXTY-SIX (66) INDIVIDUALS IN QUARANTINE/OBSERVATION STATUS. This includes: the active confirmed cases (patients in the TCI that are currently infected) (5), contacts of confirmed cases (19), indirect contacts of confirmed cases (4), suspected cases (3), relatives/contacts of suspected cases (13), symptomatic persons not meeting the case definition and their contacts (10) and TCI residents returning from a country with local transmission and their contacts (12). Persons under observation/quarantine are either not displaying symptoms or have not met the case definition for COVID-19.

The increase in quarantine/observation numbers are as a result of persons experiencing relevant symptoms, but not meeting the COVID-19 case definition, and their contacts being added to quarantine/observation status. TO DATE, 500 individuals have been released from quarantine/observation status.

On 1st April, 2020 the case definition for COVID-19 was amended for TCI; a travel history is no longer needed to fit the criteria. Given the closure of the TCI borders it is likely that new case would be as a result of local transmission.

NO NEW POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE RESULTS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE. To date, the TCI has received a total of one hundred and one (101) test results, with eighty-nine (89) confirmed to be negative and twelve (12) positive confirmations. Persons confirmed not to have COVID-19, and their contacts, were moved from quarantined status and asked to continue following proper guidelines from the Ministry of Health. Those cases confirmed positive are in isolation with contact tracing aggressively continuing.

THE PUBLIC IS HEREBY REMINDED THAT LOCKDOWN MEASURES HAVE BEEN EXTENDED AND YOU ARE TO STAY AT HOME – ONLY LEAVING FOR ESSENTIAL TRAVEL UNDER THE SPECIFIED GUIDANCE.

The Ministry of Health ALSO takes this opportunity to remind the public of offenses committed under section 18 of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 in regard to false Statements/information. You do not have to be the originator of the statement/information in order to be charged under the law.

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.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S COVID-19 UPDATE #49

The Ministry of Health would like to advise the public that as at 12am on 28th April, 2020:

THE COVID-19 POSITION IN THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS HAS SEEN SOME CHANGE SINCE THE PREVIOUS UPDATE AS AT 27th APRIL, 2020.

NO NEW COVID-19 DEATHS HAVE BEEN RECORDED.

CONFIRMED POSITIVE CASES CONTINUE TO REMAIN AT TWELVE (12); WITH FIVE (5) CASES NOW HAVING RECOVERED FROM COVID-19, and one confirmed positive case continuing to remain under hospital care.

THE NUMBER OF SUSPECTED CASES OF COVID-19 HAS INCREASED TO THREE (3). THE SUSPECTED CASES ARE TCI RESIDENTS EXPERIENCING RELEVANT SYMPTOMS WITHOUT A HISTORY OF CONTACT WITH CONFIRMED CASES. CONTACT TRACING IS CONTINUING. Two suspected cases are currently under hospital care.

All individuals met the WHO case definition for a suspected case of COVID-19. Samples have been collected and sent for testing.

QUARANTINE/OBSERVATION NUMBERS HAVE INCREASED TOB 57. This includes: the active confirmed cases (patients in the TCI that are currently infected) (5), contacts of confirmed cases (19), indirect contacts of confirmed cases (4), suspected cases (3), relatives/contacts of suspected cases (13), symptomatic persons not meeting the case definition and their contacts (1) and TCI residents returning from a country with local transmission and their contacts (12). Persons under observation/quarantine are either not displaying symptoms or have not met the case definition for COVID-19.

The increase in quarantine/observation numbers are as a result of the new suspected case and their contacts being added to quarantine/observation status. TO DATE, 500 individuals have been released from quarantine/observation status.

On 1st April, 2020 the case definition for COVID-19 was amended for TCI; a travel history is no longer needed to fit the criteria. Given the closure of the TCI borders it is likely that new case would be as a result of local transmission.

NO NEW POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE RESULTS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE. To date, the TCI has received a total of one hundred and one (101) test results, with eighty-nine (89) confirmed to be negative and twelve (12) positive confirmations. Persons confirmed not to have COVID-19, and their contacts, were moved from quarantined status and asked to continue following proper guidelines from the Ministry of Health. Those cases confirmed positive are in isolation with contact tracing aggressively continuing.

THE PUBLIC IS HEREBY REMINDED THAT LOCKDOWN MEASURES HAVE BEEN EXTENDED AND YOU ARE TO STAY AT HOME – ONLY LEAVING FOR ESSENTIAL TRAVEL UNDER THE SPECIFIED GUIDANCE.

The Ministry of Health ALSO takes this opportunity to remind the public of offenses committed under section 18 of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 in regard to false Statements/information. You do not have to be the originator of the statement/information in order to be charged under the law.

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.