By Lincoln DePradine
Grenada’s prime minister is inviting Canadians to visit the Caribbean island, where two hotels have been reopened and a spike in COVID-19 deaths and Coronavirus infections has been subsiding.
“To all our brothers and sisters in Canada, and all the friends of Grenada, we tell them come. Please come,’’ Dr Keith Mitchell said last Sunday in an interview with the Canadian network CTV News.
Mitchell also spent part of the weekend in an online meeting with Grenadians in the Diaspora, including nationals in Canada.
He encouraged them to continue contributing supplies, such as personal protective equipment, to help combat the spread of the virus across Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
Mitchell urged the chanelling of supplies through the Office of Diaspora Affairs in St George’s, saying “we don’t want any group outside there trying to use a very badly needed situation for their own personal gains’’.
Preliminary figures are that more than EC$2.5 million in supplies have been sent to Grenada through the Office of Diaspora Affairs.
Grenada, from two COVID-related deaths in early August, had lost 184 up to this Tuesday. “Active’’ COVID cases were listed at 292.
Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne blamed the sudden increase in deaths and infections in Grenada on police leniency, when hundreds of Grenadians defied a government order and took to the streets on August 9 and 10 to play the traditional masquerade, “Jab Jab’’.
“In the case of Grenada, they allowed the Jab Jab to continue and they exercised discretion,’’ Browne said. “Discretion to spread COVID? If the police in Grenada had stood up, perhaps their fortunes would have been different today.’’
Browne’s comments were “unfortunate’’, Mitchell said.
He questioned whether Browne wanted Grenada police to shoot the masqueraders. “Tear gas them? Is that what one is advocating?’’ Mitchell asked.
The prime minister underscored the need for more Grenadians to be vaccinated, saying misinformation about the vaccine – spread through social media – has hampered Grenada’s vaccination campaign.
“The misinformation is enormous. Just like in Canada, there’s a lot of misinformation,’’ he told CTV News in the interview arranged through the office of the Grenada consulate general in Toronto.
Mitchell said Grenada has embarked on boosting tourism as part of an effort to rebuild the economy.
“We have a lot of problems like many countries around the world, but because of the united effort of the people in the country, we are now seeing a serious reduction in the (COVID-19) spikes,” Mitchell said. “We have seen a collective effort by the people of the country.’’
Mitchell and other government officials have welcomed the reopening of the 267-room Royalton Grenada hotel and Spice Island Beach Resort, a 64-room property.
Royalton and the resort shut their doors after Grenada closed its border in March 2020 to contain and control the spread of COVID-19.
“These two remarkable resorts will no doubt add immensely to the variety of options in the accommodation sector. This reopening is indeed testimony to the confidence in the resilience of the industry,” said Grenada’s tourism minister Clarice Modeste.
The country also is expecting increased airline travel from Canada and the United States.
They include daily JetBlue service from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Grenada, and twice-a-week – Wednesday and Saturday service – by American Airlines from Miami.
In addition, starting October 31, Air Canada will resume direct flights to Grenada on Wednesday and Sunday; and, beginning November 7, Sunwing will be providing flights once each week from Canada.
“New and expanded air service helps Grenada regain its position as a highly attractive destination for visitors seeking a distinctive Caribbean experience,’’ said Petra Roach, CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority.