Authorities in Region Nine (Upper Takatu – Upper Essequibo) have written to Prime Minister, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips requesting a phased reopening of the Guyana/Brazil crossing, after more than a year of closure.
The letter, signed by Regional Chairman Bryan Allicock and others, cited concerns with dwindling commercial activity and revenue in the region. The current arrangement at the Guyana/Brazil border restricts the movement of goods and people to one day per week.
The letter was also signed by the Regional Executive Officer (REO) Karl Singh and Mayor John Macedo.
Together, they posited that while the government’s health concerns are understanding “there is still an urgent need for goods and services that is necessary, which is not accessible from Georgetown that will keep our local economy, business and services afloat.”
In that regard, the authorities recommended several measures that would commence on October 1, after which a review would be conducted.
According to the letter, the authorities want the border to be opened on Thursdays from 07:00hrs to 17:00hrs to facilitate the passage of small and large goods.
They suggested that the border only be opened for domestic travel on Fridays at 08:00hrs, 13:00hrs and 18:00hrs for a period of 15 minutes for residents of Bonfim and Guyana only. Persons would be required to present proof of residence, fully vaccinated status along with their identification before being allowed to cross.
The letter outlined too that a health team would be placed at the port of entry checkpoint to conduct screenings.
It was said that before the recommendations were put forward, consultations were held with “all businesses and relevant authorities” in the region to reinforce the importance of adhering to the measures.
“It is recommended that all businesses must adhere to all COVID-19 guidelines set out by the National and Regional task force and facilities must be put in place to allow continuous sanitization of businesses and customers alike,” the letter noted.
But the government insists the current arrangement will continue amid a local surge in COVID-19 cases.
In a recent statement, Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony said that while it was Guyana’s desire to have the border between the two countries opened as quickly as possible, this had to be done safely given the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases and the threat of the spread of the Delta variant across the communities.
Brazil is among the countries with the highest COVID-19 infection rates and deaths in the world.