COVID-19 Task Force considers phased reopening of airports

—Guyana Civil Aviation Authority submits 4-stage plan

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, May 28, 2020

A four-stage blueprint for the reopening of the country’s airports that were closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been drafted by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and submitted for review by the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF).

Passengers arriving at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) during September, 2018

GCAA’s Director General Lt. Col. Egbert Field said Phase One of the blueprint is regarded as the planning stage. This phase will see the continuation of the airports’ closure to international travel while allowing repatriation, cargo and other flights cleared by the GCAA.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to safeguard health, safety and security will also be drafted through multi-stakeholder meetings during the first phase. These SOPs are expected to cover areas such as sanitisation, social distancing, use of masks, etc.

Phase 2 is called the implementation phase and entails the resumption of regional travel along with regular reviews of the SOPs and further consultations with stakeholders.

“Our third phase is really now expanding [the reopening] some more- taking in foreign nationals and this phase runs right through like between August and December,” DG Field outlined.

Additionally, Phase 4 will see an extension of the airports’ reopening into 2021 with a possible resumption to normalcy in the aviation sector.

The GCAA head stressed the importance of monitoring the evolving pandemic in regions of the world where flights to Guyana may originate. This he says may affect the timeline Guyana sets for reopening its airports.

On March 18, Guyana closed its two main airports to international flights, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 cases. Subsequent emergency measures extended the closure to June 3.

Recently, the NCTF has approved re-entry of approximately 300 Guyanese. These citizens are subjected to strict guidelines set by the NCTF to ensure the wellbeing of both passengers and persons residing in the country.