St Lucia gov’t defends introduction of fees for quarantine purposes

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has defended the decision of his administration to impose fees for individuals going into quarantine saying that the government had been paying an estimated one million dollars monthly for state quarantine facilities.

Chastanet has 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 rooming, security, nurses, feeding individuals, and renting the facilities.

Government established several quarantine centres since March when the island recorded its first case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) 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; double occupancy US$165 and triple occupancy US$240.

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 Lucia, 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 an additional month – September,” Chastanet said, noting however that his administration could not carry the burden of the cost by itself.

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