Dominican Rep. + 5 more

Caribbean Situation Report August 2021

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Situation

• Aruba observed constant increases in COVID-19 cases, emanating mainly from unvaccinated persons. Consequently, the Government reverted to previous COVID-19 prevention protocols resulntig in a ban on social gatherings, mandatory mask wearing, and curfews being reinstated, while commerce was limited to a capacity of 50%. The screening process for the food project targeting vulnerable locals and refugees and migrants (R&Ms), taken over by the government of Aruba (GoA) from the Red Cross, became more stringent and recipients of food hampers raised concerns that they had insufficient items; while Fundacion Pa Nos Comunidad Aruba foodbank (FPNC) representative emphasized that the assistance was supplementary and emergency supplies only. The country embarked on a campaign to recognize the credentials of medical professionals within the R&M population and to work formally. Additionally, a parliamentary debate resulted in a request that the President provide the disaggregated number of undocumented persons in Aruba. Further, an R4V partner publicly stated that conditions were not adequate at the moment for facilitated returns to Venezuela, due to the conditions that those returning to Venezuela might face, and noted that the return flights organized by the GoA were not being supported by R4V partners, particularly due to the absence of proper screening to ascertain the status of those returning.

• Curaçao also reinstated pandemic restrictions as active COVID-19 cases increased. A curfew was restored on 13 August from 12.00 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. The food aid project funded by the Dutch government was ongoing, with the end-date of 15 September approaching, provoking uncertainties about its continuity as an agreement has not yet been reached with the GoC to handover responsibility after its end.

• The state of emergency and curfews in the Dominican Republic (DR) were relaxed and will be lifted in provinces with 70% of the population vaccinated. On 9 August, La Altagracia and the National District provinces became the first regions to be without a curfew since March 2020. Additionally, Venezuelan Normalization Plan applicants with visas have been returning to Venezuela to bring other family members. The Plan is on the second stage of visa issuance and a second registration will open in early September for Venezuelans who were unable to apply previously.

• Curfews remained as the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorized Guyana as level 3 (high) for COVID-19, prompting the health minister to urge all persons in the country to be inoculated. Authorizes mandated all healthcare workers and public transport operators be vaccinated to prevent further exposure to the virus, announcing a two-week extension for their vaccination. Non-compliance will result in submission to regular PCR tests and the suspension of licenses for transport drivers. On 24 August, Guyana received its first shipment of Pfizer vaccines; a donation from the USA which will be administered to people between the ages of 12 and 17, including R&Ms within this age bracket in schools, with parents’ consent. Additionally, 92 of some 938 public schools across the country, were scheduled to reopen for full face-to-face learning, while the remaining 846 were slated to reopen on a rotational basis. Also, Venezuelan women and adolescent girlsreported to partners having limited financial resources to access menstrual hygiene products in the host country.

• Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) confirmed its first two cases of the COVID-19 Delta Variant on 11 August. The health minister encouraged the public to get vaccinated as uptake for the COVID-19 vaccine slowed considerably. T&T received 305,370 doses of the Pfizer vaccine donated by the USA, intended for people between the ages of 12 – 18. All R&Ms inside this age group became eligible for the vaccine with some receiving the first dose. The MoH also approved the Pfizer vaccine for use by pregnant women. A State of Emergency (SOE) with a daily 9pm to 5am curfew was extended for a further three months, with phased reopenings of the retail sector on 16 August. As preparations were underway, local media reported that 6,000 of the 17,000 small and medium enterprises would not re-open, bearing negative socio-economic implications for many Venezuelans and locals that were previously employed in this sector. Furthermore, the Immigration Division commenced six-month extensions on expired work and stay permits for Venezuelans with the new expiry date set for mid-November. The authorities will re-evaluate Venezuelans’ registrations at the end of 2021. 12 children were among 39 Venezuelans detained for irregular entry into T&T during the reporting period. Furthermore, the T&T Coast Guard intercepted a pirogue carrying several Venezuelan nationals, and reportedly piloted by a Trinidadian crew. The vessel and its occupants were escorted to the Coast Guard base to await processing.