By Carlena Knight
Foreign Affairs Minister EP Chet Greene has put Barbados on notice that Antigua and Barbuda will get Caricom involved if Barbados fails to amend its Covid risk rating for the twin island nation.
Greene shared his frustration on Tuesday as he questioned the stance taken by Barbados which two weeks ago ranked Antigua and Barbuda as a high-risk country, forcing citizens to quarantine for 14 days upon entry.
The status has now been lowered to medium-risk but the minister is demanding it be further relaxed.
“We have not referred this matter or written to Caricom as yet, but clearly if by the end of [Tuesday] this persists and the Barbados government insists on this particular position, we will then have to ask Caricom to intervene so as to really have some understanding,” Greene stated.
Greene said the ranking is unacceptable based on the country’s current Covid-19 figures.
Up to last night, there had been 131 confirmed cases of the virus, with four of them active.
Greene said he wants clarification on the standards used by Barbadian health authorities to classify the islands.
“What we are asking for primarily is an understanding on what standards you are applying. We don’t know. If we know that the standard is two cases per 100,000, then we will tell our population Barbados is a place to avoid because we have six cases and therefore you will have to go to quarantine.
“But not knowing what standards have been applied makes it difficult for us to even relay to our citizens or to even ask the US Embassy for some kind of facilitation that will allow our citizens to be serviced outside of this.
“It is foolishness; it really is vexing and I can understand the frustration of the population and in the context of Caricom it really does not show well or speak well for what the region speaks about so glowingly but in effect it shows different,” Greene added.
He said he could not chastise the public for speculation regarding the true motive behind the decision.
“We are not getting any forthright action or response to that particular question of what standard are you using. The CMO gave some high numbers but those were back in June and countries with higher numbers than Antigua and Barbuda continue to be reflected in Barbados’ setup as low risk, so it is not far-fetched for persons to believe or come up with their own suspicions about what could be the trigger for what we are seeing here,” he said.
He reiterated the call for the country to be declared low-risk “as it is not doing any justice to Antigua and Barbuda”.