Taxi association head concerned by ‘hugging and kissing’ at airport

VC Bird International Airport
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By Carlena Knight

The United Taxi Association (UTA) president is reiterating calls for health officials to look into rules in place at the airport regarding arriving passengers.

Ian Joseph shared his concern over what he termed a blatant disregard of protocols when incoming travellers are picked up by family members.

According to the top taxi official, there is often indifference for social distancing guidelines as relatives tend to greet each other with hugs and kisses. This, he said, is alarming and could put the country at risk.

“We are all aware of how easily this virus can be transmitted and we are very concerned that we are at the airport and we are carrying out the protocols that have been presented to us by the Ministry of Health, but then we see otherwise when the local persons come to pick up their family members,” he said.

“There [are] really too [many] family reunions with too much hugging and kissing as soon as they exit the terminal. These people that exit are supposed to be on self-quarantine and if they are just going to step out the terminal and start hugging and kissing on the airport, it means they would have already broken whatever protocols they would have signed before even being home to quarantine.

“So, we just want the authorities to look into this because it is going to be a national disaster if people don’t adhere to what they were told to do and we have tried to tell the Ministry of Health about it but we are just waiting on someone to observe it,” Joseph said.

However, Chief Medical Officer Rhonda Sealey-Thomas has responded to these concerns and is continuing to encourage the public to abide by the guidelines.

“I do know there has been a rift in social distancing and following all the other protocols, and we really want to urge the public to practise social distancing, stick to the guidelines and numbers stipulated for social events,” Dr Sealey-Thomas said during a Ministry of Health press conference yesterday.

“Try and stay six feet away and try to wear your facemasks as much as possible as required by the law,” she added.

Meanwhile, the taxi association president also gave an update on monies owed to his members by overseas tour operators and cruise lines.

In June, Joseph told Observer about the matter as he aired his frustration over the lack of communication from the other parties.

Minister of Tourism Charles Fernandez was forced to step in and hold discussions with the relevant authorities and was optimistic that the tour ambassadors would receive their payments which, according to Joseph, amounted to about $80,000.

The UTA president told Observer that matter has been resolved.

“I would say all of it has been settled. We don’t have that huge outstanding money that [is] owed to us anymore. However, we would have put them on notice that this would not happen again. We have put certain things in place so they don’t run up these large sums of money owed to us again,” he explained.

“In principle, yes, they have agreed to these stipulations. We have seen some improvement in the payment plan since we have started up again, so that is no longer an issue for us.”

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