Cases/suspected cases – testing has now shown that there are no active or suspected cases of Covid-19 in Anguilla. This is a great achievement but none of us should be complacent.
Keeping Anguilla safe – with no active or suspected cases the Chief Medical Officer today (27 April) advised Executive Council that all regulations restricting movement and gatherings can be safely removed. This means that churches, places of worship, all retail stores, hair salons and barber shops, accommodation suppliers, gyms and spas, recreational facilities, official lotteries, restaurants and bars can re-open from Wednesday 29 April.
This is a great step forward and we want to thank you all for your support in following the restrictions while they were in place. But we ask you all to continue to practice social distancing. Covid-19 has also taught us all again about the importance of good basic hygiene in preventing the spread of all infectious diseases. Consequently, environmental health officials in Anguilla will be visiting all commercial premises in the coming weeks to check compliance with established environmental health regulations.
Consistent with our policy of always being honest with you, we must note that these or other restrictions may be re-introduced if circumstances change.
Border Closure – our ports will remain closed for passenger movements until the situation outside Anguilla allows us to reopen them safely. As we have said before we cannot say when this will be, but it is unlikely to be before the end of May.
A limited number of repatriation flights for foreign nationals will take place this week. These flights – all of which have been formally requested by overseas governments – will take place under the same controlled arrangements as those done before. All aircraft will arrive empty, with the aircrew remaining on board so avoiding any contact with ground staff.
We are painfully aware that there are many Anguillians overseas who wish to return home but can’t because of the current border closure. We want to assure them, their families and loved ones that we are working now to put in place arrangements to enable them to return safely. We will announce details in the coming days.
Protecting Anguilla from illegal entry – illegal boat landings remain the greatest threat to our health and security. Coordinated land, sea and air patrols remain in place and anyone attempting or assisting an illegal crossing will be arrested. This week 40 Special Constables will be sworn in to support the RAPF to patrol possible landing points. We will not let our guard down. We thank you all for your vigilance in reporting any boat movements. Should you have any information you wish to share with the authorities, you can do so in confidence at – www.gov.ai/911.
Prohibition on boat use – regulations prohibiting the use of any boat in Anguilla’s waters unless specifically exempted remain in force until 12 May. However, the following arrangements have been put in place to allow a safe managed return to fishing by licensed fishers from 29 April:
- all boats intending to fish must be equipped with a GPS tracking device available from the Fisheries Department and fitted by an individual approved by the RAPF. The Fisheries Department has a number of trackers in store and a sizeable order for more has been placed;
- trackers will be fitted first to fishing vessels who held a valid licence on 18 February. If there are insufficient trackers licensed fishers will be able to fish provided they have paid for a tracker which must be fitted as soon as stocks permit;
- fishing must take place between 5.00 am and 5.00 pm. There will be no night fishing from boats but night fishing from the sea rocks, spear fishing and diving from the shore are permissible;
- fishing can take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays of each week with fishers operating from three fishing bases – Island Harbour, Sandy Ground and the Cove. Fishers will be required to be checked in by a police officer prior to their return to shore; and
- fishing is permitted on the Northern side of Anguilla. Movement of vessels on the Southern side is not permitted, unless otherwise agreed by the Police Commissioner two days in advance.
Unemployment Benefit – the Social Security Board is now accepting on line applications for unemployment benefit. All persons who meet the qualifying conditions are encouraged to go to the website www.uassistance.ai and follow the instructions to submit their application. Those who do not qualify for assistance from the Social Security Board can apply for temporary unemployment benefit through the scheme being operated by the Ministry of Finance. For additional information you may contact the Ministry on 1-264- 497- 2451 extension 1303 and 1320 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.beatcovid19.ai
Playing your part – the steps we have all been taking are helping to keep us safe. No active cases does not mean we should stop hygienic practices or respiratory etiquette. So once again, we urge you all to take the simple steps that save lives:
- wash your hands frequently;
- cover coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, or in the crook of a flexed elbow;
- frequently clean and disinfect shared spaces and work surfaces; and
- avoid contact with persons suffering from or exhibiting symptoms of acute respiratory infections such as the flu, coughs, and colds.
Let us remind you again of the Ministry of Health hotline on COVID-19. The number is 1-264- 476- 7627 that is 476 SOAP, or 1-264- 584- 4263, that is 584-HAND.
You can also access the most recent guidance and information at www.beatcovid19.ai