More businesses to reopen in revision of Seychelles' COVID-19 public health orders
Gedeon said that businesses that are being looked at will include places like spas, gyms, food outlets such as restaurants. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Officials in Seychelles are working on a revised public health order concerning COVID-19 prevention measures as the previous measures expire end of February, said a top health official on Thursday.
The Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, told a press conference that the review is not being done in a vacuum but based on the actual situation in the country.
"We are looking at how to start certain services with reduced risks like we are doing with non-grocery stores. This means there will be certain checklists that will need to be satisfied before any place can be appraised for reopening. These will include places like spas, gyms, food outlets such as restaurants," said Gedeon.
He said that a definite date has not been set but a meeting is scheduled with the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) for the review and from there a date will be decided.
The Public Health Commissioner said that the health authorities need to put the outbreak under better control before activities that bring large groups of people together can take place such as team sports, open or stand-alone bars and discos.
Seychelles currently has 518 active cases of COVID-19. The island nation has recorded 2,562 cases among which 2,041 have recovered; 11 people have died from the illness.
Gedeon said the island nation in the western Indian Ocean still hopes to fully re-open to tourists in mid-March.
"Our target is still there but since we started out vaccination programme we have received new information which said that if we delay administering the second dose of the Covishield you get better immunity. Because of this even if we don't achieve the maximum herd immunity at this point, even with the first dose it gives a certain level of protection," he added.
Gedeon said the health authorities are working with the tourism industry to finalise a date for when businesses can start taking bookings.
He added that hotel categories of 1 and 2 will be abolished which means that to take in visitors all establishments will need to have high sanitation standards.
"We will still have permitted and non-permitted countries but if you have been fully vaccinated you will have more freedom of movement when you are in the country. If not vaccinated you will still need your negative PCR tests which are mandatory for everyone but you will have to stay in one facility for a number of days. All of these are being done to ensure that we can manage a resurgence of another outbreak," said Gedeon.
As for the reopening of schools, Gedeon said that the objective is to ensure that all staff working on school premises are vaccinated by the time of reopening.
"Research has shown that transmission in schools are more among the staff and not really among students. We are pleased to say that the staff of most schools have been vaccinated but there is still a group who does not want to be vaccinated. The Ministry of Education is finding out which percentage of the staff have not been vaccinated and we will work with them to ensure that they do get vaccinated," he said.
While post-secondary schools will start preparing for their reopening next week, other schools will have to put the necessary conditions in place and once this is done they can start planning for their reopening.