After six months practically isolated from the world, the Caribbean nation Saint Kitts and Nevis tries to roll out the red carpet to tourists this month, without also welcoming the pandemic.
The islands, home to 53,000 people, have passed through the covid-19 almost unharmed, with no deaths and only 19 cases since the pandemic began. And they would like things to go on like this. But with the tourism industry in serious crisis, the country and neighboring islands have no choice but to end the isolation.
Caribbean countries are trying to balance local health with dependence on tourist dollars, while the region has suffered the worst recession in more than half a century. Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, one of the first Caribbean countries to reopen, saw increases in infection rates as visitors began to arrive. The Bahamas closed its borders again in July, just three weeks after reopening them amid an increase in cases.
“There can be no livelihood without life,” Prime Minister Timothy Harris said in an interview. “So our priority is to keep the people of Saint Kitts and Nevis healthy.”
Harris and other Caribbean leaders urge the United States and Europe to adopt global standards, including the installation of coronavirus at airports so that people feel safe enough to get back on planes.
São Cristóvão has also invested millions in modernizing its airport to reduce the risk of contagion, he said.