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– as the country reopens its airports amid the pandemic today
The first scheduled commercial flight to Guyana, as the country reopens it international airports today, will take place on Tuesday, even as several other airlines — in the region and further abroad — have signaled their interest in operations to Guyana.
Director-General of Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Egbert Field told the Village Voice that the first international passengers on a scheduled flight to the country during the pandemic will come via Eastern Airlines out of Miami.
“Airlines are interested from North America and from the Region. We have the standard international airlines from North American, American Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Eastern Airlines, Copa Airlines from out of Panama. They’ve all indicated their interest [along with] smaller airlines out of the Caribbean Region,” Field said.
The Ministry of Health, Public Works, the GCCA, and Guyana’s two international airports have a plan to regulate the number of flights which enter the country so that the health system does not potentially become overwhelmed. Airports will also regularly review their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure maximum efficiency and safety.
Field said he is confident that Guyana is ready to enter into Phase Two of the reopening of its airports and that all necessary COVID-19 safety measures have been put in place.
“All the measures which we spoke about for the preservation of health and to stem the spread of the disease and infection by people coming in are in place…I am convinced that we are set and ready. I don’t see a bumpy start. There may be a few things that need to be sharpened on or fine-tuned but, all in all, I know we are ready for the movement of passengers in and out of Guyana,” he said, noting that there are penalties in place for non-compliance.
For passengers desirous of travelling to Guyana, they will be required to do a PCR COVID-19 test within 7 days of travel. If the PCR test is done within 72 hours of travel, the passenger will not be required to do another PCR test on arrival. If the PCR test is done between four to seven days of travel, the passenger will be required to do a PCR test on arrival. Field said that the passenger must withstand the cost of any additional tests.
“That test will have to be paid for before the passenger is even given a boarding pass,” he said. The Village Voice was able to confirm from the Public Relations Officer at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Shunza Samuels, that the airports are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the local agency providing the tests — the Eureka Medical Laboratories — for an agreed-upon cost.
“It’s their [Eureka Medical Laboratories] equipment, they know how much they have paid for it, what’s their operating costs, so they would be able to work out with the airline what the cost of tests should be,” Field explained.
Phase Two of the reopening of airports in Guyana has been postponed several times in the recent past due to the sharp rise in cases and the need for the Government to ensure that all measures were in place prior. As of October 11, 2020, Guyana noted a total of 3,469 COVID-19 cases. There have been 103 deaths in the country as a result while Region Four accounting for almost half of the total number of cases at 1,608.