Arrival of first expedition vessel into Stanley
This week will see the arrival of the first expedition vessel into Stanley, as part of the scaled down summer tourist season which began last month. The Plancius will arrive on Friday 10 December, with 108 passengers aboard, and will be in Stanley all day. Travellers will be permitted to disembark and explore the town and neighbouring areas, including visiting local shops, pubs and restaurants.
As with other vessels which have visited Camp and the Outer Islands recently, stringent Covid-19 measures are in place to ensure public protection. All passengers and crew will have had a negative PCR test result within the 72 hours before joining the ship, and the vessel will also have spent 10 days at sea (or have visited only clean locations such as Antarctica and South Georgia) before visiting the Falkland Islands. This period at sea may only be reduced to 5 or 8 days if all persons on board meet the same vaccination and testing requirements that are available for the ‘test to release’ option for air arrivals in the Falkland Islands.
In terms of extra precautions around Stanley, local businesses have been working extremely hard to develop their own additional protocols for shore excursions, to help keep people, premises and property safe during these visits. These may include, but are not limited to: robust cleaning regimes, social distancing, use of PPE (personal protective equipment) and hand sanitiser, self-declaration forms and contactless payments. Tourism businesses have also been invited to join the new Safe Travels scheme which requires compliance and is administered via the Falkland Islands Tourist Board. The Islands recently earned a global stamp of approval from the World Travel & Tourism Council for our handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the high level of health and hygiene protocols implemented here.
Portfolio holder for Economic Development, MLA Gavin Short, said: “I, like many in our community, will be pleased to welcome visitors back to Stanley. It will, of course, still come as a bit of a surprise to see visitors once again wandering our streets, however I hope that our community is assured that every effort has been made to ensure that we can provide tourism services safely. Everyone has done such an incredible job in keeping the Falkland Islands free from this terrible disease and we are determined to continue with our rigorous approach during this scaled down season of expedition vessel visits. Aside from the meticulous measures that have been put in place by government, local businesses are also going the extra mile to ensure that they can operate safely for the sake of both their staff and visitors. Also, the government still reserves the right to withdraw our exemption permitting maritime visitors to enter the Falkland Islands at any time, and we will not hesitate to do this if we feel that any circumstances have arisen where this is required to protect our people and our health services.”
Further information can be found by visiting: https://www.fig.gov.fk/covid-19/travel/shipping