As of February 28, it is back to 100 percent for most gatherings, including churches, nightclubs and dining, as government has announced a relaxation of a number of COVID-19 protocols in the wake of significant drop in the infection rate across the country.
Minister of Health and Human Services Hon. Jamell Robinson, at a news conference on Thursday, February 24, announced that cabinet, on February 23, took the decision to allow churches, restaurants, nightclubs, and discotheques to return to their 100 percent capacity.
He said similar easing has been granted to weddings and funerals, while gatherings such as beach events of more than 100 persons would require written permission from the Chief Medical Officer or Chief Environmental Health Officer and a written approval (permit) from the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR).
He said, too, that commercial and excursion boat owners are no longer restricted in capacity, and logbooks for all establishments would no longer be required.
Minister Robinson said, however, that mask wearing and/or face covering will continue to be required indoors and enclosed spaces, saying that outdoor mask-wearing would now be recommended only when near others.
He said cabinet also decided that as of February 28, restaurant, bar, nightclub, or discotheque patrons would no longer be required to be fully vaccinated, nor provide a 24-hour negative test before visiting those locations.
According to the health minister, the new measures are slated to remain in place until 31 March 2022.
However, the Arrival Passengers Travel Clearance Health Regulations 2020, which require visitors to the country to submit a clean COVID-19 bill of health remains in effect.He said cabinet has also decided, until 31 March 2022, to raise the vaccination age from 16 years to 18 years old.
The minister also announced that there would no longer be a daily COVID-19 dashboard requirement, but a weekly one, noting though that Public Health would continue to submit daily reporting to CARPHA, CDC, Public Health England etc., as per international requirements.
The cabinet level decision was taken because of active cases in all of TCI in February plummeted to 21 active - all on Providenciales. He said the 28-day positivity rate dropped to 3.1 percent, stating also that hospitalizations from the disease have plunged to 3. 0 percent.
Minister Robinson explained that the TCI government, unlike some other countries, was not prepared to lift all protocols just yet, seeing that the pandemic has not left us.
“Some folks might say if cabinet has removed all these restrictions, why not follow other countries like the DR (Dominican Republic) and the UK, and go all the way and burst the country wide open?
“I say, we must all continue to be mindful of our unique position as a country with our strengths and weaknesses,” Minister Robinson argued.
He continued: “When it comes to COVID-19 we must continue to cut our own cloth and find ways to still both protect lives and livelihoods.
“On the livelihood front, we are doing better and better economically, with having over 40,000 passenger arrivals in January. This was again powered by the number one beach in the world, Grace Bay Beach, as noted by Trip Advisors Readers Choice.
“From a (saving) lives standpoint, we must be more cautious as it’s better to measure 10 times and cut once, rather than measure once and cut 10 times. We believe that these are smart regulations that will be monitored for the next month to ensure they are effective.
Ultimately, we have to continue to take personal and collective responsibility for our actions, both good and bad.”