Government urged to disclose quarantine costs to returning nationals prior to arrival

by Curlan Campbell

  • Letter from Grenada’s UK High Commission did not specify actual cost for accommodations
  • She and other stranded nationals signed 2-page document without knowing they were expected to bear cost
  • Female repatriate felt ambushed when invoiced $1,320 for mandatory quarantine accommodation

An anonymous repatriate who was among 21 nationals stranded in the United Kingdom following the outbreak of the coronavirus, has called on the relevant authorities to ensure that going forward, Grenadian repatriates are made fully aware the extent of the cost for accommodations while in mandatory quarantine at facilities approved by the Ministry of Health.

The call came as the stranded female who returned to Grenada on 3 June 2020, felt ambushed after being presented with an invoice to pay $1,320 after spending a few days in mandatory quarantine at an undisclosed hotel. The individual who wished to remain anonymous said that although the letter from Grenada’s High Commission in the UK, stated that “Passengers will also be required to bear the cost of their quarantine if there is any,” did not specify the actual cost for accommodations. Upon entry into Grenada, she signed a 2-page document that according to her, also did not specify what the actual cost was going to be, therefore, after being mentally and physically exhausted following the long trip, she and the other stranded nationals signed the document without knowing that they were expected to bear the cost. She said the situation could have been handled better and has asked that the authorities ensure that those nationals returning home should be made fully aware of what will be financially required from them.

“This is an opportunity for the government to look at a different quarantining method and managing to quarantine better — because not everyone will be able to afford hotel accommodations — and give people options so they can choose which is the best quarantine for them.”

It seems that government heeded the call after Minister for Health, Nickolas Steele, on Thursday, stated that as part of requirements for nationals to be able to come home, they must agree to bear the full cost for room and board, and, a bid to offset the additional cost for meals at the quarantine facility, nationals are allowed to have their families deliver grocery items to them as the accommodations allow for them to prepare their own meals. Speaking specifically to the 88 repatriates who are expecting to arrive in Grenada today Friday, 19 June from New York, Minister Steele said there will be a mechanism in place to assist those who truly cannot afford to pay for accommodations.

Referring to the 21 stranded nationals who returned from the UK, Minister Steele indicated that members in the private sector have stepped forward to assist in the cost for some of those individuals. However, the minister did disclose the actual cost of quarantine which to date has totalled over $600,000 for providing accommodations to over 200 repatriates most of whom would have returned from aboard the cruise ships.

“Let’s just say conservatively it cost $200 per day for food and accommodation for over 14 days then we talking about around $655,000 thereabouts in food and accommodations and we haven’t started to count the cost of testing of each individual. A PCR test is about EC$300 to EC$400. The rapid test for each individual plus the overtime as well for the health and security personnel to maintain these sites together with transportation and all those things. So individuals have been paying and we are most grateful to those cruise ships and entities that have seen that it is part of their responsibility to pay.”

The repatriate that after spending 12 days from 3-14 June in mandatory quarantine, she was allowed to pay what she could before getting to go home. However, to date, she is still in limbo since no one from the ministry has communicated to inform her if she would be still liable to pay the full cost for her quarantine accommodations.

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Hats Off To Commissioner Edvin Martin And His Team For Leaving No Stone Unturned

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