The Government of Grenada has suspended all flights to the island from the United Kingdom in the wake of reports about the recent discovery of a new strain of COVID-19.
Grenada is the first CARICOM country to do so after the Boris Johnson administration introduced a Tier Four alert, flagging inland and international travel in Britain.
In a statement late Sunday, Grenada’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said the decision was made to suspend all air traffic between Grenada and the UK effective December 20, until future notice.
The statement added that “anyone who has been in the United Kingdom in the previous 14 days, will not be permitted entry into Grenada.”
“This decision, taken in line with many other countries, is to prevent, as best as possible, the introduction into Grenada of the new strain of the Coronavirus recently discovered in parts of the United Kingdom.”
Scientists have advised that this new strain of COVID-19 poses a new health risk, as it appears to spread more easily, and may be up to seventy percent more transmissible than the earlier strain.
“We extend apologies to all our stakeholders, including the airlines, and our nationals and friends in the United Kingdom who were scheduled to travel to Grenada in the coming days. As this is a developing situation, decisions have had to be made quickly, and in the best interest of Grenada.”
The administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell stated that the developments will be monitored closely and make further adjustments to Grenada’s entry protocols will be made accordingly.
Other countries around the world including Canada, Russia, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Italy, and several others have also suspended flights from the UK.
By mid-week, Jamaica is to make a decision on whether it will introduce travel restrictions on the UK. Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton said that he was very concerned about the emergence of a new and potentially resistant strain of the coronavirus, with the Holness administration casting one eye already on an expected surge in infections locally after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
“It is something I am seeking advice on and will take further advice through a discussion with the PM (Prime Minister Andrew Holness) and members of the Cabinet for any decision that could reflect the position that has been taken by other countries in Europe,” Tufton told The Gleaner on Sunday afternoon.
The parliamentarians will consider the effects that possible restrictions will have on the island’s tourism industry. Jamaica’s peak-travel season began on December 15th and the UK is Jamaica’s third-largest source market.
Only last week, British Airways returned to the tourism capital, Montego Bay, after an 11-year drought.