By Staff writer, MyVue News.com,
Basseterre, 9th October, 2020 (MyVue News.com)- First, it was the terrorist attacks in New York in 2001 that caused airports to introduce stricter passenger guidelines, now it is the Coronavirus that is again forcing tougher restrictions to our ports of arrival, for both the public and passengers.
On Wednesday, 7th October, 2020, Minister of Tourism, Transport & Ports, Lindsay Grant, admitted that “COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the way we operate.”
He said, when it comes to these changes, the RLB International Airport is no exception.
Grant explained that the government and the St. Christopher Air & Sea Ports Authority, SCASPA, are trying to comply with standards laid down by international bodies like ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization.
With the borders of the country, including RLB, due to be opened on 31st October, this year, the Minister of Ports said that after consultation with the relevant stakeholders, SCASPA is about to introduce new changes to its operating protocols.
But he was quick to admit that the new rules are fluid and could be altered once the COVID-19 situation also changes.
Therefore, from Sunday, 18th October, access to the airport will be restricted only to passengers, assigned workers and customers doing business with the various stakeholders, such as customs, operating at the facility.
In other words, the casual drive through by members of the public will no longer be possible, once the new rules come into force, within the next two weeks.
Access, said Grant, will be granted only to persons with documented proof of the need to transact business at the airport. Airport staff on schedule and with work IDs, and passengers with their relevant travel documents.
For clarity though, these new rules mean that the branch of the local bank operating at the airport, will be closed and not available to the public. So too will be the SKY Grill Restaurant, which no longer would be able to serve the local community.
Access to the airport will now only be granted to those taxis and tour operators that have been approved by the NEOC and St. Kitts Tourism Authority, and these will be in limited quantities.
Another restriction relates to parking. This will not be permitted for private vehicles, but drivers would be allowed to drop off passengers, then immediately exit the facility.
But even this too would have further restrictions, because no vehicular traffic will be permitted under the canopy, given that this area will be reserved for the queuing of those passengers departing, and would have to practice social distance.
All persons entering the airport would be required to wear masks and no access would be granted to those not having this protective gear.
If for some reason, someone is exempt from wearing a mask, the relevant medical certificate must be presented to the security officers.
New signage and stickers, some on seats, and the floors, is also being installed, speaking to physical distancing, wearing of masks, and other guidelines for passengers and airport users.
The airport authorities are also making video informercials available throughout the facility.
Added safety measures for staff will also be employed, including the use of PPEs.
Extra security patrols by the port police and other security details should also be expected.
Minister Grant promised an extensive public information exercise to help sensitize the national community and incoming passengers, highlighting the processes for arrivals and departures.
On Wednesday, the government also received $50,000 worth of medical screening equipment from Innotech Services Limited to help identify passengers with high temperatures.
Main photo: Security officer ensuring passengers are wearing masks upon entry at the Robert L. Bradshaw International airport.
(Photos courtesy: MyVue News.com)