BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - COMMERCIAL flights will be suspended into the Federation beginning at 11:59 p.m. this evening (Mar. 25) for a period of two weeks in the first instance.
Confirmation on the closure came late Tuesday afternoon from Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris during his speech at a press conference at the Ocean Terrace Inn.
The closure, which will expire on April 7th, is part of a number of new initiatives being implemented by the government to mitigate against the fall out from the spread of the Coronavirus in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Currently there are no confirmed cases of the virus in St. Kitts and Nevis; however, there are flights arriving from destinations with the virus, including territories in the Caribbean, such as Antigua and Barbuda.
St. Kitts and Nevis joins a number of other territories in the region closing borders due to the Coronavirus.
Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Maarten, Grenada, St. Lucia and the British Virgin Islands have all closed their borders due to the spread of the Coronavirus, and the threat posed by people traveling with the virus and showing no symptoms.
The closure of ports in Trinidad and Tobago left 33 citizens stranded with the government in Bridgetown coming to their rescue.
According to reports out of Port of Spain, National Security Minister Stuart Young defended the move to leave the nationals overseas.
In a recently held media briefing, the minister asserted that the closure of the border was not something that “we wanted to do, it is not something we take pleasure in doing, but the reason for it is to protect you, the remaining population in Trinidad and Tobago and every person we allow in now presents a risk potentially”.
The government received heavy criticism for leaving its nationals stranded.
Back in Basseterre, Prime Minister Harris intimated that the new measures will secure the borders and citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Effective tomorrow night March 25 at 11:59 p.m., the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis will be closing its borders to all commercial airlines flights until April 7th, 2020. Flights for medical emergencies will be exempted, and international air cargo and cargo by civil vessels will be allowed to maintain connectivity and enable the federation to import much needed commodities, such as food, fuel, medical supplies and equipment,” he explained.
To that end, he noted that all law enforcement agencies will be undertaking measures to ensure law and order at the borders.
“We must acknowledge that we are a small open economy and that we rely on international trade systems for most of our needs. Immigration, Customs, Coast Guard and the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force will be enforcing all border controls,” added Dr. Harris.