The St Vincent volcano La Soufriere erupted just days after the Caribbean island's prime minister said that only people vaccinated against COVID-19 could evacuate via cruise ships.
The past days have been devastating for the people on St Vincent Island after La Soufriere erupted several times in an explosion of hot gas and ash. The largest eruption happened on Monday, April 12, since the volcanic activity commenced last week, and posed a serious threat to residents.
Carnival and Royal Caribbean deployed 4 ships to assist with the evacuation to neighboring islands. However, rumors started that the cruise liners would accept only vaccinated evacuees. President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley, had to clear things out about the false rumors.
The official response from the cruise line is that all people who are to be evacuated on cruise ships would need only a negative Covid test prior to boarding. And they do not need to be fully vaccinated to board the cruise ships.
“Royal Caribbean has not made vaccinations a requirement for St Vincent evacuees. Government officials of St. Vincent have offered to do their best to make sure all who board will be tested and vaccinated in order to receive refuge in neighboring countries, but this is at their initiative. We stand ready to provide any additional assistance as the relief efforts continue.”
During an emotional press conference, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves addressed his nation in tears and said that "the Chief Health Officer tells me what she wants to do is to that those who are vaccinated she can get them going there on the ships if they chose to."
Mainstream media and local news outlets reported that:
“Prime Minister Gonsalves said on Thursday that in order to board the cruise ships sent to evacuate people from the island, evacuees must be vaccinated, while the nearby island nations that are planning to accept refugees will also require vaccinations. He also recommended that those who arrive in shelters on St. Vincent be vaccinated."