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Updated on June 5, 2020 11:29 pm

Antigua Rethinks Recommendations For Arriving Tourists

Antigua Observer:- The recommendation to have stay-over visitors to Antigua and Barbuda quarantined for 14 days is being reconsidered, as policymakers scramble to put in place a health and safety strategy before borders reopen on June 1.

Quarantining tourists was deemed to be unfeasible if the country is to stand a chance of attracting the type of visitors that will yield a significant amount of economic activity.

“We think the average length of stay will be seven days and not 14 days. It’s not going to be feasible to impose a 14-day quarantine on a would-be visitor,” said Information Minister, Melford Nicholas.

Government has also announced a probable U-turn on previous plans to require all international travellers to present a certificate declaring them Covid-free upon arrival, declaring the measure “unlikely and impractical”.

Instead, rapid virus testing will be carried out at ports of entry at a small cost to be borne by the visitor.

Nicholas said passengers will be allowed to disembark and enter Antigua once there is a “confidence level of approximately 98 per cent”.

“Should a requirement happen where a person has shown any illness, we still have onshore facilities on island [where] we will be able to do further tests and isolation and treatment of those particular persons,” he explained.

These guidelines are among a number of regulations that need to be ironed out before the country begins to accept visitors. According to Nicholas, ministers of health and tourism have not yet finalised the way tourists should be received and treated upon entry into the country or at hotels and other accommodations.

Safeguards that have been revealed include the location of quarantine facilities, and an agreement to install a high-tech camera to measure body temperature of passengers arriving into VC Bird International Airport.

Meanwhile, there has been yet another delay with local testing which was anticipated to begin this week, barring any hiccups. Still, Nicholas said he believes the country is in a good position to reopen because of the effectiveness of its contact tracing methods. He said the government and those at the frontline of this pandemic “know what the local situation is” and have chosen to move ahead with a phased reopening.

“If we know for a fact that we have circumscribed where the infections came from – we know there were two events, the British Airways flight and the Montserrat voyage – so we knew that we had the matter under control – before those two events there was no Covid in Antigua and so why would we get crazy to try and test five per cent of the population just merely to keep the statistics common with everyone else?” he explained.

The Information Minister said the government is aware of and understands the risks, which is why it has been consulting widely to ensure that should something happen, it is in a position to respond and to respond appropriately.

The government is aiming to have all safeguards in place shortly, noting that it is “obliged to open the economy”, particularly as its mainstay is tourism.

“In the words of one of my colleagues, there is no vaccine for hunger. If we keep the doors of our country closed, that’s what’s going to happen; the government is going to be outside of financial resources to provide services that the people need, including feeding our people,” the minister added.

9 COMMENTS

  1. aa mi soaps…..tings getting hot around the place…..i want to see what will happen in st lucia…….woe will be the cry…..

  2. So others islands are quarantining tourists for the population safety while we put the tourist enjoyment above our health

    • I guess you missed the part that says they are “rethinking” the quarantine, because they have deemed it unfeasible.

  3. “In the words of one of my colleagues, there is no vaccine for hunger. If we keep the doors of our country closed, that’s what’s going to happen; the government is going to be outside of financial resources to provide services that the people need, including feeding our people,”

    And therein lies our quandary in the region. This is our dilemma; how do we balance it all out? Do we keep our borders closed until a vaccine is available and this whole thing blows over? Or do we open them up and allow some sort of economic recovery to take place while being aware of the risk of new infections? I don’t think we as Caribbean citizens have truly taken the time to think about the difficult place we find ourselves in. How do our governments sustain our Caribbean economies with literally zero revenue over a protracted time period while trying to ensure all citizens’ needs are looked after;all the while fearing the possibility of health systems being overwhelmed in the region should our borders reopen? I don’t have the answers myself and I won’t pretend to have them but these are a couple of the pertinent questions that this pandemic has put to us and we, not just as St.Lucians but as Caribbean citizens, must strive to answer as we struggle to grasp this new reality. Something’s gotta give……whatever that may be.

    • No vaccine for hunger ? Of course there is !! Vaccines are normally given before a virus affects someone. The vaccine for hunger is growing your own food so that one never has to rely on persons outside during pandemic situations … yes food food food.

  4. The Caribbean needs to stop depending on the WHITE and CHINESE man period we can sustain ourselves…. Lock them up for 14 days we give same treatment they do…. ANTIGUA you gonna bow to those tourists which restrict your people from entering their own countries? Nonsense!!!!

  5. It is a tough choice. Personally, I would not leave the UK to go to any country to be quarantined for 14 days. This would be a senseless travel. I do not know anyone who wants to travel to a country where they have to be placed in quarantine on arrival. Not because you are coming from a high risk country does it mean that you have covid 19. These caribbean countries are reliant on tourism and cannot have their borders closed forever so the choice has to be made of whether the goverment is going to save lives or save the livihood of its citizens. I am St Lucian living in the UK and I have cancelled my flight which I had booked to St Lucia for August. It is pointless going to St lucia for 2 weeks and my entire 2 weeks will be spent in quarantine.

  6. I think there is a way we can have tourist, in a hotel,having a good time at their hotel beach front,and restaurants we have to work a way of avoiding contact,but it could be done

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