06 October 2021
COVID-19 Public Update
Welcome to October’s monthly Covid-19 update.
- Total number of swab tests taken and processed to date: 7643
- Total number of swabs taken but not yet tested: 1
- Total number of positive test results since 3 April 2020: 68
- Number of current positive test results within the Islands: 1
For northbound travellers…
As a reminder, if you require a travel swab before flying north – which are usually required when people are flying to another country following their arrival in the UK – you will need to book this in advance with the hospital, ideally at least 10 days before travelling.
- Full Name, Address and Date of Birth of individual requiring swab
- Contact number that KEMH can call you
- Date individual will be leaving the Islands
- Country you are travelling to AND the requirements of that country (i.e. swab must be taken within 72 hours of departure)
For southbound travellers…
On Wednesday 22 September 2021, ExCo agreed to revise its policy in connection with the categories of visitors allowed entry into the Falkland Islands. The revised policy now states that in addition to the existing visitor categories, individuals who fall within the following new categories can also apply to the travel to the Falkland Islands:
- Public diplomacy guests who are sponsored by the Falkland Islands Government or the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
- SAMA (South Atlantic Medal Association) veterans and immediate family members
- Media and film crews with press accreditation granted by FIG
- Scientists and researchers who are supported by FIG
These visitors will still be subject to the same quarantine requirements that apply to all other visitors. Visitor permits will also continue to be reviewed by Customs and Immigration to ensure that the policy is being rigorously and consistently applied.
Additionally, in light of recent disruptions to southbound Airbridge travel, the Falkland Islands Government has agreed to reimburse passengers whose plans were disrupted to the extent that they ended up needing to take three or more PCR tests before travelling.
Claims will only be approved for southbound flights and will only be processed for the third test onwards, there will be no reimbursement for the first two PCR tests purchased and taken by any individual.
To apply for reimbursement, applicants need to complete a ‘PCR Test Claim Form’ and provide a copy of all receipts for the PCR tests they have purchased and taken. The form and further instructions are available on the government’s website, please visit:
The Falkland Islands new Infectious Diseases Control (Coronavirus, Quarantine) Regulations 2021, came into force in August and will remain in place until 8 August 2022 (unless revoked sooner) and will be reviewed every two months, in order to ensure that they are still needed and remain fit for purpose. Please ensure that you are aware of the changes under the revised regulations – you can find more information online: https://www.fig.gov.fk/covid-19/quarantine – however the main requirements for quarantine and testing are as follows:
- The standard period of quarantine is now 10 days
- Time spent at sea on a vessel which has had no contact with other persons or vessels since leaving port for the Falkland Islands will count towards time in quarantine
- Persons arriving from sea can move to shore to complete quarantine started at sea and persons quarantining on a vessel are treated as quarantining together
- On arrival in the Falkland Islands, everyone is required to travel to their quarantine accommodation in government-designated transport or, if using a private vehicle, must either travel alone or with others who will also be going into quarantine
- People in quarantine must not share their living accommodation or other facilities with anyone who is not in quarantine with them and must not go beyond the boundaries of their property for the purposes of exercise
- Arrivals by air from the UK are required to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than 5 days before arrival
- Arrivals by air from any other country are also required to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than 3 days before arrival
- Existing 5 and 8-day test to release quarantine options are available for all arrivals by air, not just those arriving from UK
- Similar 5 and 8-day test to release quarantine options are available for arrivals by sea
- Children aged 6 or over must be included in the testing programme if adults in quarantine with them want to take advantage of the 8-day test to release option; children under 6 do not need to be tested and will be released from quarantine if the person looking after them tests negative on both day 2 and day 8
Quarantine helps protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have Covid-19. While morally we each have a responsibility to do what we can to keep each other safe, the requirements of the Infectious Diseases Control Regulations 2021 means that there are significant legal consequences for people who are found to contravene the law, including a fine of up to £2,000, imprisonment for up to three months, or both. There is no excuse for being unaware of your personal and household requirements under the law.
KEMH wishes to remind the public of the continued importance of reporting cold and flu-like symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms, please contact KEMH on 28000, you will be asked to provide a contact number by the reception staff and asked to self-isolate until advised otherwise.
If you have a viral illness it remains important to stay at home and away from others until you are well. Any child with a fever, who is coughing, has a green snotty nose, is not eating or drinking, or has diarrhoea or vomiting should stay away from nursery or school. They should be free of fever and well for 24 hours before returning to nursery or school.
Remember, in order to avoid spreading viruses:
- Catch it: germs spread easily; carry tissues and use them to catch your cough or sneeze
- Bin it: germs can live for several hours on tissues, dispose of these as soon as possible
- Kill it: hands can transfer germs to every surface you touch, so clean your hands often.
The Falkland Islands Government continues to work with Public Health England and other health organisations in the UK with respect to our local vaccination programme. Recently there has been a lot of media speculation about the need for a booster vaccination in the Falkland Islands. Plans for delivering booster injections in the UK are progressing, with those who are most vulnerable prioritised for their booster first. We will keep the public updated as to how and when a booster regime might be delivered in the Falkland Islands. Durability of immunity is something that scientists are continuing to investigate at this stage of the pandemic, in order to build a longer-term plan for future immunisation requirements.
The Falkland Islands Government has recently produced a series of shipping guidance documents for fishing and expedition vessels wishing to enter Falkland Islands waters. Each set of guidance is designed to support vessel operators and ensure that they have essential policies and procedures in place to protect against Covid-19, as well as to provide clarity on the laws and restrictions that we currently have in place due to the pandemic.
In terms of expedition cruise vessels, those that meet the requirements set out in the guidance will be able to visit the Falkland Islands during the 2021/22 summer season, subject to a limit of 530 passengers disembarking in any one location (for these purposes, Stanley and Stanley Common is considered to be a single location). These requirements are detailed in the guidance and include vaccinations, testing, quarantine time, onboard medical facilities, onboard hygiene and ventilation, and medevac capability.
The guidance also states that failure to meet these requirements may lead to the Falkland Islands Government denying entry into the Islands of passengers or vessels. For example, if a passenger or crew member contracts Covid-19 or tests positive for the virus while not in Falkland Islands waters, then operators should be aware that the vessel may be advised to transit elsewhere so the best medical care can be provided.
The government also reserves the right to withdraw its exemption permitting maritime visitors to enter the Falkland Islands at any time, including in circumstances where such a step would be required to protect the health of the Falkland Islanders or to protect the Falkland Islands limited healthcare resources. More information is available online, please visit: https://www.fig.gov.fk/covid-19/travel/shipping
RENEWAL OF THE TRIP AND BFSAI TRIP SCHEMES
Following the success of the initial Tourism Recovery Incentive Programme – or ‘TRIP’ – which was designed to support tourism-related businesses and stimulate economic growth across the Islands during 2020/21, the government is pleased to announce that the scheme will run again this year. TRIP2 will be open to everyone ordinarily resident in the Falkland Islands; it launched on 1 October 2021 and will end on 30 April 2022. A BFSAI TRIP2 scheme will also be in place for the same duration.
Feedback from households and registered businesses has been factored into plans for the renewed programme. The changes to the new schemes are as follows:
- Households will be able to pool their retail and food voucher allowances under TRIP2 to make reclaiming receipts more straightforward
- Reimbursement for meals taken by a group of people dining together can now be made to single individuals, rather than having to be split between voucher holders
- BFSAI TRIP2 will be amended so that vouchers can also be used for meals and accommodation, at the 50% redemption level, in addition to being used for experiences at a 100% redemption level – this applies to registered providers outside of MPC
- The 50% Concordia Bay ferry subsidy will be cancelled, due to minimal previous uptake
- The FIGAS discount will be offered at a 50% rate from Monday-Thursday and at a 25% rate from Friday-Sunday to encourage people to travel off-peak and regulate the service
Once again, residents will be able to apply for the scheme by completing a registration form; a single registration form may be completed for all eligible people within a single household. Registration will be confirmed within two weeks to allow for processing and eligibility checks. Registered adults will be entitled to a £500 digital voucher and children to a £250 voucher to be spent on tourism accommodation, hospitality and experiences, provided by registered businesses. TRIP2 will be administered again by International Tours & Travel and full details are available on their website www.falklandislands.travel or by calling 22041.
We continue to see a number of enquiries posted on Facebook relating to Covid-19 advice and guidance in the Falkland Islands, such as questions about travel, testing and quarantine. This information is always available on our dedicated Covid-19 website, which is updated on a regular basis and features the latest advice, guidance and regulations, as well as an archive dating back to March 2020. To date over 38,000 visitors have accessed the website and it is still the best resource for Covid-19 support; please visit https://www.fig.gov.fk/covid-19/
The next monthly Covid-19 update for the Falkland Islands will be on 3 November 2021.