At one of his COVID-19 press briefings, Health Minister Dr. Irving McIntyre
At one of his COVID-19 press briefings, Health Minister Dr. Irving McIntyre

After two months without a locally recorded confirmed case of COVID-19, the government of Dominica has practically reopened the economy. But Dominica's borders remain closed.

Health Minister Dr. Irving McIntyre said in a recorded video statement on Thursday that curfew hours have been reduced and certain businesses have been allowed to fully open to the public.

"We have remained free of any local transmission and based on this fact and our community testing survey we have decided to relax the restrictive measures that are currently in place," Dr. McIntyre said.

From Monday 15th June curfew hours have been shifted to 10 p.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays to Sundays.

And "businesses will be permitted to operate with usual working hours that existed before the COVID-19 period subject to the curfew hours," said Dr. McIntyre.

The new businesses that have been permitted to operate from Monday 15th June 2020 are: tour operators, hotels and guest houses for stay vacations, cinemas, Lotto Blast, gaming shops, libraries, MAUPAU. Beaches and rivers have also been reopened.

Schools remain closed.

Dominica has recorded 20 cases of COVID-19 so far; 16 cases have recovered. There are two active. These cases are from cruise ship workers who were allowed to return home on 22nd May 2020.

"All the 20 crew members who returned on Monday 8th of June there were two with rapid antibody test positive. On Thursday PCR testing both of these returned negative," Dr. McIntyre said.

"The two individuals have been kept in isolation as precautionary measures," McIntyre said.

On Tuesday 9th June, 55 students returned from the United States.

"They are all in good health with no complaints at present," said Dr. McIntyre.

But the Ministry of Health is concerned that there is always a risk of new cases as Dominica brings home its people who have been stranded overseas by the closure of ports worldwide. Health officials say they are weary of the fact that people who return illegally may also transmit the virus.

"I am pleading to you the public that although we have relaxed the curfew hours and we have practically reopened our local economy this is the perfect opportunity to express our patriotism and be responsible in our behavioral adjustment," Dr. McIntyre said. "We are getting ready for the reopening of our borders. This is critical because of the health risks".