By Caribbean News Global contributor
ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The proposal to allow unvaccinated visitors to enter Antigua and Barbuda with the benefit of a rapid antigen or PCR Test, was placed on hold until more data can be gathered, prime minster Gaston Browne announced on Thursday, January 27; meanwhile development projects continue on the island.
“The progression of the Omicron variant is being evaluated. The World Health Organization (WHO) has noted that the restrictions inhibit travel and make it more costly to travel, but does not make travel any less risky. The cabinet will revisit the subject next week when it convenes. All COVID-19 protocols remain in place,” added prime minister Browne. “The COVID-19 pandemic that has challenged economies around the world, remained a primary item of discussion and decision-making for the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda. The cabinet met virtually, for the third time since the New Year began. All ministers were present,” he reported.
In the interest of transparency, prime minister Browne, said: “ The cabinet addressed the item of “sick leave” taken by COVID-19 infected workers who are compelled to quarantine or to remain isolated for periods of 10 to 14 calendar days, or even longer when they have fallen gravely ill or hospitalized.”
In furtherance of this discussion, “the minister of labour informed that the challenge to find a reasonable methodology is global, just as is the pandemic itself. Consequently, the recommendations of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Caribbean Congress of Labour will be examined.
He advised: “There must also be consultations with the national unions and employers to reach a reasonable settlement of the issues that will likely be taken to parliament.”
Addition presentations to the cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda included a team from the APUA, the general manager and the water division manager, on timelines, supplies arrangements, payments and delivery schedules for reverse osmosis plants and the new polyurethane pipes that are to replace old cast iron pipes that leak.
Several Port Authority officials also share the newest plans for River Dock on Barbuda, since international cargo vessels will be invited to discharge their containers directly onto Barbuda’s shores rather than discharging the freight in Antigua for onward shipment to Barbuda. The Development Control Authority, the ministry of the environment, the Barbuda Council and other agencies will all be given the opportunity to examine the proposal and to provide their lawful input
The cost of the dock is estimated at US$4.7 million divided equally between material and labour. Following approvals, work will begin shortly thereafter; the dock will be required to meet international ISPS (International Shipping Port Standards) which will have to be verified.
Work continues on the airport and runway, making Barbuda’s economy and prospects for the future even greater. The PLH project already employs more than 500 workers, with more expected.
The dredging and enlargement of the deepwater cruise tourism channel and turning basin continue, to enable the OASIS Class ships to enter and occupy the completed Fifth Berth in St. John’s Harbour. Five cruise ships have been a regular sight at the Harbour since the vessels returned to Antigua beginning October 2021. The sector is expected to continue to grow as confidence in the destination also strengthens. The Tourism Minister informed of the growth in air arrivals also and assured the cabinet that the marketing of the destination has been paying dividends, reads prime minister Browne statements.
The parliament of Antigua and Barbuda will convene Thursday, February 3, 2022, for the budget speech. One bill to be laid will allow for an amnesty to be granted to those who have allowed their lawful status to lapse, and who have gaps in their lawful status, wrote prime minister Browne on Thursday, January 27, 2022.