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Eastern Caribbean heads back plea for DeSantis to allow cruise vaccine passports

Vaccination status of visitors and industry workers is 'essential to our strategy in the OECS to safeguard the lives of both our people and visitors and restore our economies,' Roosevelt Skerrit said
Heads of government across the Eastern Caribbean have thrown their support behind US Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.'s plea for Florida to allow cruise lines to confirm the vaccination status of Caribbean-bound passengers.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, chair of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), expressed the subregional group’s appreciation to Bryan for asking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to give special consideration to aid the revitalization Caribbean cruise tourism.

Bryan argued that ensuring the cruise industry reopens with vaccinated passengers is essential to the tourism economies of the USVI and the wider Caribbean.

'Potentially have a huge deleterious effect' on the Caribbean

'We are deeply concerned — as you are — with the grave inherent difficulties for our effort to safeguard lives and to reignite livelihoods as we are among the most tourism-dependent economies of the world,' Skerrit said in a letter to Bryan. 'While the new law is not specific to the cruise business, it will potentially have a huge deleterious effect on it because almost all cruise ships (especially to the Caribbean) originate from ports within the state of Florida.'

Skerrit added that Florida's law appears to conflict with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which encourages crew and passenger vaccination.

'For us as small island developing states whose economies are largely fueled by tourism, the vaccination status of industry players (both visitors and industry workers — whether cruise or land-based) is essential to our strategy in the OECS to safeguard the lives of both our people and visitors and restore our economies,' Skerrit said.

Further advocacy planned

He disclosed that OECS leaders propose to advance arguments in further support of Bryan's advocacy, and will 'urge partners in the cruise as well as the land-based tourism industry to add their voices in appeal to Govenor DeSantis.'

In turn, Bryan thanked the OECS leaders for their support: 'As Caribbean people it is important that we stand united on these important issues. Cruise ships don’t just sail to one destination. We are one Caribbean and our health care infrastructure is too vulnerable to handle widespread outbreaks of illness.'

'Millions of people in the Caribbean are counting on' DeSantis

Bryan had commended the Florida governor for his commitment to health, civil liberties and economic revitalization, while underscoring that millions of people in the Caribbean are counting on him to work with his lawmakers to ensure that travelers are healthy and vaccinated before sailing to Caribbean destinations.

Skerrit’s correspondence was copied to heads of government in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the head of the OECS Secretariat.

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