The US-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added Saint Lucia and 22 other countries to its highest warning Level 4 list, making them countries to avoid visiting because of rising cases of COVID-19. Other Caribbean countries include the Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Turks and Caicos Islands, and Suriname. The Level 4 listing now includes more than 100 countries.
The CDC advises that Level 4 countries should be avoided, and that persons who insist on traveling to those countries that they be fully vaccinated.
The arrival of the Omicron variant has increased the perceived risk of travel to several countries. Many countries paused travel from several African countries after the Omicron variant was discovered, resulting in damaging effects to the tourism sector in a dozen nations in the region. Omicron is now ravaging countries all over, European nations included, though the World Health Organization (WHO) was late in reporting its presence in Europe.
Heavily tourism-dependent Saint Lucia and other Caribbean nations, added to the “No Go” list for American travelers, are doing their best to keep cruise ships and flights coming, while implementing tough safety standards, including medical declarations covering COVID conditions of all passengers and crew, 24-hours before arrival.
Ships have been prevented from entering and docking in Port Castries, where there are known cases of unacceptable levels of Covid infections on board. Cruise lines serving the island and other regional destinations have, also, been known to cancel cruises at sea, while others have converted ships pulled off scheduled cruises into floating hospitals for passengers and crew, who tested positive for COVID.
However, while acknowledging that such news is “bad for the industry”, the cruise lines and Caribbean tourism officials have been cooperating to their mutual benefits. The number of cruise ships calling into Saint Lucia continues unabated since the Level 4 travel warnings by the CDC.
With cruise bookings made long in advance of departure, local tourism officials are hoping this will provide, what one well-placed official described to Saint Lucia News Online (SLNO), “an initial buffer” against “any negative effects the CDC’s recent action may have on Saint Lucia and the other cruise destinations on the Level 4 list.”