CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has defended the decision of his administration to impose fees for people going into quarantine, saying that the Government has been paying an estimated EC$ 1 million dollars monthly in the past for State quarantine facilities.
Chastanet told reporters that while the imposition of quarantine fees was a difficult decision for Cabinet to make, it was a decision that was necessary.
He said that while he also understood the reaction of some members of the public to the announcement of the fees, he emphasised that the Government has basically been covering the quarantine cost that includes the cost of room, security, nurses, feeding individuals, and renting the facilities.
Government established several quarantine centres since March when the island recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus that has so far infected 28 people here.
On Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George said effective October 15 fees subsidised by the Government will be applied for single occupancy US$95.00; double occupancy US$165.00; and triple occupancy US$240.00
Chastanet said that the free State quarantine service was supposed to have ended in July.
“Clearly, we saw the demand from overseas, and understanding how successful the programme has been in maintaining the safety of St Lucians, Cabinet agreed to extend it by one month. It then became August and we realised we could not end it in August, so we extended it by and additional month – September,” Chastanet said, noting, however, that his Administration could not carry the burden of the cost by itself.
“We also believe the bulk of persons who wanted to come home have been able to come home. So the good news is that for the most part, the quarantine period has been reduced to seven days,” he told reporters.
“So if you come in with a negative COVID test you go into quarantine for seven days, and if on the seventh day you test negative, we allow you to go out and that’s where the monitoring bands come into place. So instead of having to remain in quarantine, we still monitor you from a contact tracing perspective,” Chastanet said.
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