All commercial flights set to end this week

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By Elesha George

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The closure of land and sea borders across the world has put an involuntary stop to international travel operations in Antigua and Barbuda.

All commercial flights will end within days, according to Minister of Tourism Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez.

“As of the end of this week, effectively it’s going to be an island shutdown,” he said.

The minister explained that the country’s borders are effectively closed, saying for the past two weeks international travellers have been predominantly returning nationals and foreigners leaving on outbound flights back to their home countries.

In announcing what many had anticipated, Fernandez also said, “All of the hotels are going to be closed within a matter of days so there is no reason for tourists to come into Antigua”.

He said the government has had a partial lockdown on the country “for over a month now”, referring to various travel bans on virus-hit countries, and had been adding restrictions as necessities arose.

Colin James, CEO of the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority, said as of Tuesday, regional airline LIAT is the only carrier in the Caribbean that’s still operating.

“InterCaribbean has ceased service, Seaborne has ceased service, CAL has ceased service and so it’s only LIAT and that’s for a few destinations around the region, as many have closed their borders to all international travel,” he said.

Canada had long closed its border and both British carriers, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, will fly for the last time into Antigua this week.

The United States is also likely to close off service as of today, after a number of flights were suspended in recent days.

“Our borders have been closed on us… The situation from North America is indeed dire,” James added.

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