STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES FOR NOMINATION DAY
Ministry of Health and Elections Office (COVID-19) Standard Operating Procedures Guidelines for Nomination Day 2021.
These Guidelines are issued by the Ministry of Health and the Supervisor of Elections in accordance with regulation 18 of the Public and Environmental Health (COVID-19) (Control Measures) Regulations 2021.
The existence of COVID -19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands has given rise to the Turks and Caicos Islands Government, guided by the Ministry of Health, taking all the necessary precautions to keep residents of, and visitors to, the jurisdiction safe. While there are measures currently in place that stipulate that residents and visitors are not to congregate in large numbers, particularly at social and other gatherings, the Turks and Caicos Islands up-coming General Election will compel a rethink of how this important event can be undertaken without compromising the health of electors, election office staff and poll workers. The primary protocols, as promoted by the Health Ministry - social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitizing – must be rigidly adhered to in order to minimize the spread of the virus.
Hence, the following minimum health protocols for all candidates, Elections Office staff and Returning Officers in the Turks and Caicos Islands are to be implemented. These minimum health protocols are not a limit on those additional protocols that individuals may choose to adopt. Individuals are encouraged to adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to help protect the health and safety, not only of themselves but also that of persons that they come into contact with.
To mitigate the threat of contracting the virus, everyone must rigorously follow the practices specified in these protocols, all of which facilitate the safety measures for candidates, electors, and the Elections Office staff. The virus that causes COVID-19 continues to spread in our communities; it can be spread to others by infected persons who have few or none of the following symptoms:
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- repeated shaking, with chills
- muscle pain
- sore throat
- loss of taste or smell
- feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
- known close contact with a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19
It is recognized, and appreciated, that public health guidance cannot anticipate every unique situation. Individuals should stay informed and take the necessary precautions based on common sense and wise judgment that will protect health, and support economic revitalization.
The TCI will be holding nomination day on 29th January 2021. There is a current surge in positive cases of COVID19 across the islands in the TCI affecting the islands of Providenciales, Grand Turk, North Caicos and South Caicos. Extra caution should be taken in order to avoid these events becoming a further opportunity for disease spread during this time.
It is essential that procedures are implemented in order to ensure that these activities can be carried out in the safest possible manner in light of the risks outlined so that the event can be conducted in a way to mitigate against risks to all participants.
Additionally, COVID19 can spread through person to person interactions as well as contact with contaminated items.
General Instructions for the Place of Nomination:
- Upon entering a place of nomination, candidates must wash or disinfect both hands. Also, they must wash or disinfect both hands after any interaction with elections office workers, agents, or other individuals at the location.
- Hand sanitizer will be provided; and used to disinfect hands before entering and on leaving the location.
- The wearing of a mask/face covering in public is mandatory so ALL candidates MUST wear a mask/face covering (over both the nose and mouth) while at the location, and when within six feet of another person. If available, individuals should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks.
- Measures should be in place to ensure that there is no overcrowding outside the venue and no public gatherings of persons not required to be present at the place of nomination, which may pose a public health risk.
Instructions for candidates and persons at the Place of Nomination:
- All candidates must comply with all Public and Environmental Health (Covid19) Regulations in effect on Nomination Day.
- Each political party or independent candidate must consider the absolutely minimum number of candidates and other registered electors required to participate in the Nomination of a Candidate at the Place of Nomination with a view to limiting the number of persons at the location and otherwise traveling with or participating to only those persons required to be present to meet statutory requirements.
- Social distancing must be strictly adhered to whether inside or outside of a building at the place of nomination.
- Face coverings must be worn at all times.
- Proper and frequent hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette must be observed.
- Carpooling to the venue must be avoided and where more than one person is in a car, windows should be open to create airflow and face coverings should be used to reduce the risk of infection.
- Use of virtual platforms should be considered to limit the number of persons present.
- Implement measures to ensure that members who may be considered a part of the vulnerable group take extra precautions to limit risks.
- Prospective Candidates who are COVID19 positive, especially persons who are symptomatic of COVID19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, diarrhea, headache or loss of sense of taste/smell) and persons who are in quarantine under a quarantine Order are advised to remain in quarantine to mitigate against the risk of disease spread.
- Prospective Candidates who fall within paragraph 9 above who wish to remain in quarantine should arrange for a designated representative who is not in quarantine to deliver their nomination documents to the Returning Officer instead of appearing in person (lowest risk option).
- Should a candidate who falls within paragraph 9 above decide to appear at the place of nomination, in person, additional measures are required to be taken in order to prevent risk to others, including fellow candidates, electors, Elections Office workers and the general public:
Controlled arrangements for in person nomination with the candidate to include:
- donning full PPE prior to leaving quarantine and until returning to quarantine;
- taking the most direct route to the location;
- use of personal vehicle with windows open to facilitate proper ventilation;
- use of KN95 face masks at all times;
- use of gloves and other personal protective equipment;
- minimize time at venue with strict adherence to social distancing of 6 feet and proper ventilation and return to quarantine via the most direct route from site;
- no one from outside of the same household should be inside the vehicle with the candidate;
- frequent hand hygiene is also needed.