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March 23rd, 2020 | Tags: CARICOM COVID-19 Thomas C. Famous Protocols unity
From left: Bermuda’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Walter H. Roban JP MP, Acting Director of International Affairs Secretariat in the Virgin Islands, Ms. Najan Christopher and The Honourable Thomas Christopher Famous JP MP of Bermuda at the 31st Inter-Sessional meeting of Heads of Government of CARICOM, held February 17-19, 2020 in Barbados. Photo: Provided
Thomas C. Famous

Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Walter H. Roban JP MP and I, representing the Government of Bermuda, travelled to Bridgetown, Barbados to attend the 31st Inter-Sessional meeting of Heads of Government of CARICOM, held February 17-19, 2020.

The major items of discussion were as follows:

  • Regional plans for prevention of spreading of COVID-19
  • Fighting Blacklisting
  • Fighting Bank De-Risking
  • Fintech solutions
  • Private Sector growth
  • Climate Resilience
  • Caribbean African Union Summit
  • Eradication of Colonialism
  • Development of youth
  • Protection of workers
  • Interregional transportation

Of particular importance to Bermuda, the Virgin Islands and all other Overseas Territories (OTs) were the following items:

Protocols for handling COVID-19

With most, if not all Caribbean Islands dependent on Tourism, the regional health organisation, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), gave a presentation of protocols that would be activated and followed throughout the region to ensure uniformity.

They also spoke of the increased threat as Cruise Ships moved from one island to the next. Bermuda, due to geographic location, being the exception to that norm.

Subsequent to this meeting, there have been a total of 100 COVID-19 cases in the Caribbean, with 4 deaths. Of important note, the majority of these cases have been found in persons travelling into the Caribbean via airlines or cruise ships.

The Cruise ship industry has effectively cancelled all cruises to the Caribbean for the next two months.

As of March 18, 2020 a number of islands have now suspended international flights. These countries include: 




Saint Maarten

Cayman Islands

Trinidad and Tobago




With no cruise or international air visitors, there has been a knock on effect in the hospitality industries around the entire Caribbean.

Regional governments have had to now implement financial contingency plans to ensure their people do not face increased hardships.

Other Key Issues

Meetings were also held with the Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada, Hon Francois-Phillipe Champagne MP. Discussions surrounded strengthening business ties and tourism development between Canada and all Overseas Territories.

Other key set of issues discussed were the following:

  • Regional Healthcare costs and Healthcare reform.
  • Increased agricultural development / food security and subsequent lowering of grocery costs, within the Caribbean region.
  • Regional rethink on the approach to gangs and gun violence- Deputy Roban was able to relay to regional leaders that Bermuda has taken a multi prong, front end, approach to reducing violent crime- in particular the work of Min Caines/Pastor Leroy Bean. The Caucus took great note in this and subsequently invited Min Caines to attend a regional summit in Trinidad.
  • On the final day of the meeting the Virgin Islands delegation presented a motion to extend the UN mandate for Decolonisation for another 10 years. Deputy Roban of Bermuda and Premier Farrel of Montserrat supported this motion. Subsequently, Prime Minister Skerritt of Dominica approached the OTs to voice his support of the motion.
  • Deputy Roban extended an invitation to all CARICOM members to attend the upcoming CARIFTA event and Bermuda Day activities. The invite was accepted by CARICOM Chair Prime Minister Hon. Mia Amor Mottley and Secretary General Erwin Larouque. Carifta has subsequently been postponed due to COVID-19.
  • Discussions were also held to have OTs participate as Election Observers in upcoming regional general elections.
  • Deputy Roban spoke about the commitment of Bermuda to foster and grow closer ties to Caricom and all regional members.
  • Courtesy calls were made to the House of Parliament in Barbados and contact was made with several Bermudians residing in Barbados.

 Time for unity

Without a doubt, due to COVID-19, our individual and collective tourism industries will suffer as never before seen. Hotels will lay off staff, taxi drivers will go without the usual volume of work and restaurants will have less and less customers.

For those islands such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands, that have financial services as a core part of their economies, the lack of business visitors will be an additional hard blow.

Yet, through it all, our respective governments and the regional collective body, of CARICOM, have made these hard decisions with one singular end.

The preservation of life.

Now, more than ever, we must look out for our elderly who need a call and or assistance. It is them that, through hard work and sacrifice, that have provided us with the lifestyles that we enjoy today.

Take this time to reinforce the timeless values of; love, community unity, island heritage and regional pride in our young people who are home from school

Landlords, who can afford to do so, please be understanding of the plight of those who work in the hospitality industries.

Where and whenever possible, please support the small retail stores and service providers, as they are an integral part of our economies.

Through unity, we will survive COVID-19, as families, as communities, as islands and as a region.

2 Responses to “CARICOM & COVID-19”

  • ABC (23/03/2020, 15:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    You are spot on
  • Regina (23/03/2020, 17:41) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    And get your hands off of her shoulders. Yall sitting too close too. This is just hoe Corona is spread and you should know that!

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