A growing number of nocturnal clandestine revelry known as ‘Villa Parties’ that often attract dozens of celebrators is threatening the Turks and Caicos Islands’ COVID-19 effort to further bring down the numbers and fully open up the economy.
This concern was aired by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Hon. E. Jay Saunders at a news conference on Monday evening at the Premier’s Office on Providenciales.
Despite reporting that the COVID-19 28-day infection rate has now plummeted below one percent, Saunders argued that the secret villa parties were not helping the country’s efforts to return to a place of normality.
He hinted that the community of Long Bay, where many luxurious villas are located was the apparent hotbed for those wee-hour carousing.
“We know where the villas are. We know who are behind the villa parties,” the deputy premier said, pointing out that the government takes no pleasure in issuing tickets to these lawbreakers, but if government’s hands are forced, then they would have no choice.
“We can’t achieve what we want to achieve if we are going to have persons that are breaking curfews on the large scale the way they are doing it. We do not want to have to give persons tickets. We have already started to give persons tickets…we don’t want to have to give persons tickets. So, we are asking you, please be compliant and not break curfew,” Saunders urged.
Saunders said as of Sunday, June 27, the country, from it began gathering COVID-19 data last year, recorded 2,424 overall cases. He said the 28-day positive rate over the last 28 days, showed that seven persons were confirmed to have been infected with the disease, from a tested field of 1,489 PCR tests. This, he said, represented a positivity rate of 0.5 percent.
1013 Antigen tests were conducted, and according to Saunders, the 28-day positivity rate was zero percent. 2502 tests were done. Overall positivity rate is 0.3 percent.
“Many of you will remember when we came into government it was almost 30 percent. The CDC wanted us to get it down to three percent. And I said at the time that the best way to convince the CDC is by reaching their goals…the goals that that they set. And today, we are not only below three percent, we are at 0.3 percent.
“2,403 persons have recovered, with eight deaths. Three active cases. If we can hold steady, those active cases should drop to one before the end of the week, and by this time next week we should be down to zero,” he said.
He said the three active cases were on the island of Providenciales, which means that all the other islands are COVID-free.
As of June 27, data shows that persons who received first dose stood at 23,845, which represented 68 percent of the adult population. He said as of Sunday, June 27, a total of 21,495 persons, representing 61 percent of the adult population were fully vaccinated.
In the meantime, government has further loosened its curfew reins, and as of July 1, curfew hours will now be from 1am to 5am, this means that all businesses are required to close by midnight.
Restaurants will be allowed to increase their seating capacity to 70 percent, bars to 50 percent indoors and 70 percent outdoors. All religious activities, inclusive of weddings and funerals will be allowed to increase their capacity to 70 percent indoors and outdoors.
Saunders also noted that a system will be implemented for persons to apply for permits to host large outdoor social gatherings of up to 100 persons.
He said also that pleasure craft will be allowed to increase their capacity to 70 percent.