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The Caribbean Princess cruise ship at anchor off Melville Street Cruise Terminal in St George’s, Grenada. (Photo: NOW Grenada)

Quarantine costs for returning Grenadians to reach EC$2 million

The Caribbean Princess cruise ship at anchor off Melville Street Cruise Terminal in St George’s, Grenada. (Photo: NOW Grenada)

With more than 100 cruise ship workers to return to Grenada by mid-June, the Government of that Caribbean country expects to spend in excess of EC$2 million on quarantining returning citizens.

Since 31 January, when Grenada implemented measures to protect people from the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Government has quarantined more than 100 individuals. In addition, public records also reveal that Grenada has doled out EC$1 million to place individuals in State quarantine.

“Most of the returning nationals to date are cruise ship workers and, as you know, they are all in quarantine at a cost to Government,” Grenada’s Health Minister Nickolas Steele said.

Grenada’s Health Minister Nickolas Steele (Photo: United Nations)

“And again, as it stands right now, it’s the State that will be bearing the cost to have them in quarantine as we ensure that all returning nationals comply with the new health protocols that are… in place as part of measures to control and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” he continued.

The health minister revealed, further, that the State pays no less than EC$9,500 to maintain a person in quarantine for the 14 days and to prevent him or her from mingling with the general population.

“Most of the returning nationals to date are cruise ship workers and, as you know, they are all in quarantine at a cost to Government.” said.

— Nickolas Steele, health minister, Grenada

“So, using that as our base figure, you will realise the amount we have spent to date, more than a million dollars,” Steele pointed out.

Bearing the cost alone

And while the Grenadian Government had expected returning nationals to cover or contribute to the cost of their quarantine, that has not materialised.

In fact, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, in a national address on May 10, 2020, after the first batch of returning nationals on a cruise ship arrived, disclosed that the management of the cruise ship had agreed to assist the Government will funding for the quarantine, but then reneged.

Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell (Photo: CARICOM Today)

“To provide further clarity on the mandatory quarantine for returning crew members, Government is now single-handedly bearing the cost of almost [EC]$200,000 to provide these facilities because the cruise lines have not accepted responsibility, despite an earlier agreement to do so,” he explained.

COVID-19 in Grenada

In mid-March Grenada confirmed its first case of COVID-19 and, subsequently, by the latter part of that month, the Government declared a state of emergency to restrict the movement of citizens, only allowing essential workers to move around and cross internal borders.

Grenada General Hospital (Photo: Bush Retirement Home)

To ensure that the Ministry of Health, and the General Hospital, had sufficient funds to handle the additional expenses associated with the global health pandemic, the Government of Grenada allocated an additional EC$10 million from the adjusted estimates of revenue and expenditure in April.

However, Prime Minister Mitchell has said that the country’s revenues have dried up. In a HardTalk interview in May he disclosed that the Inland Revenue and Customs had a shortfall of EC$22 million in total.