Antigua – Barbuda releases new policy on COVID-19

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda has on the announcement of new policy on the management of COVID-19 said it “recognizes the extreme hardship caused by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic along with the pain and anguish of families due to untimely and unnecessary loss of loved ones,” and that “it has caused tremendous economic dislocations, social disruptions and psychological trauma.”

The government also acknowledged the enormous commitment and sacrifices made by the nation’s healthcare professionals and by extension all workers who lock arms daily in a colossal effort and determination to defeat the COVID-19 virus and help to restore this country to some form of normalcy and recognized that “COVID-19 represents an existential threat and the government calls on the entire nation, private sector and public sector and civil society to lend support in this endeavour by adopting policies and promoting policies to arrest the effects of this deadly virus.”

With effect from September 20, 2021, Cabinet agreed that all unvaccinated government employees to include the public service, statutory corporations and companies in which the government owns majority shares shall be required to remain at home until proof of vaccination is provided.

With effect from October 1, 2021, the following measures shall take effect:

  • All Unvaccinated Public Sector Employees, inclusive of Statutory Corporations and companies of which the government holds majority shares shall be required to remain at home until proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
  • As of October 1, 2021, no public sector employees, inclusive of Statutory Corporations and companies of which the government holds majority shares shall be paid a salary or wage for the period of non-compliance with the current policy;
  • All officers and support staff of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda and the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force are required to be vaccinated, effective October 1, 2021;
  • Trade Unions and Employee Associations shall be permitted to conduct educational awareness sessions via virtual and face-to-face engagements. All COVID-19 protocols shall be strictly observed;
  • All eligible students and teachers shall be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to face to face classes;
  • All pre-school and primary school teachers shall be required to be fully vaccinated before returning to face-to-face classes;
  • All caregivers and support staff are required to be fully vaccinated to provide services at elderly care facilities;
  • All arriving passengers including returning nationals and residents are required to have received at least the first dose of a vaccine approved by the appropriate authorities in Antigua and Barbuda;
  • Informal/public gatherings to be restricted to members of the same household;
  • Beaches to be closed between noon and 05:00 am daily commencing September 20, 2021;
  • Bus drivers, conductors and taxi drivers are required to be vaccinated effective, October 1, 2021; Failure to comply with the current policy will result in restrictions to operate;
  • All pleasure craft fetes, parties and entertainment events and excursions around the coastal waters and offshore islands are suspended with effect from September 18 until September 29, 2021. Thereafter, only authorized excursion will be permitted by the appropriate authorities;
  • All vendors, merchants and service providers and staff operating at the ports of entry are required to be vaccinated;

The Appropriate Authority may exempt the following:

  • Persons submitting a medical certificate approved by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) or Medical Board or a request approved on religious grounds
  • Authorized Remote Workers (Public Sector, Statutory Corporations and companies with majority government ownership) between 20th September and 1st October, 2021.
  • All persons exempted under this policy are required to produce a negative Covid-19 test twice monthly;
  • Minor children (below 18 years of age) arriving at a port of entry in Antigua and Barbuda.

Related: Coronavirus disease

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