By Theresa Goodwin
The Barbuda Council is initiating another period of lockdown for the next 14 days starting today, restricting all non-essential travel to the island, and recommending the halting of all construction activities until further notice.
A bulletin issued by the Council over the weekend indicated that the move is geared towards containing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Health authorities on the sister island recorded 8 positive cases of the virus last week, a ninth case was reported on the weekend, and a number of people remain in quarantine.
The changes that will remain in effect until September 9th will apply to business owners who have been asked to ensure that no more than 10 persons enter their establishments at one time, and that handwashing stations are provided before entry.
The Barbuda Express Ferry services will also be limited to a maximum of 25 passengers, and the Typhoon, a maximum of 19 passengers.
Taxi operators are being encouraged to follow the strict sanitisation protocols.
The council is also banning day tours for now, and people travelling on yachts to the island will not be allowed to disembark.
Secretary of the Council, Paul Nedd, says the measures are meant to slow activities on the island to facilitate contact tracing.
“We have asked that many go into quarantine for 14 days so that we can get an idea of where we are. It appears that the hotspot is within the transfer of employees between Antigua and Barbuda to conduct construction work in Barbuda,” Nedd explained.
He also added that the Council will also be making a determination as it relates to council workers on Barbuda.
“The Council is having internal discussions as to how we will proceed with Council workers and also the employees of different businesses on Barbuda going forward,” Nedd said.
Similar measures were announced for mainland Antigua during the post-Cabinet press conference Wednesday night, as government officials work to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The measures include an 8 pm to 5 am daily curfew that goes into effect from today Friday, the closure of bars and gyms for a two-week period; limiting restaurants to only take-out services; reverting to the 25-person limit for churches, weddings and funerals, and the closure of all summer camps.
All other social gatherings will also be limited to 10 people, and the reopening of schools will be delayed by a week to September 13th instead of September 6th.
The new measures come as the country records a further increase in covid cases.
The latest information released by the Ministry of Health on August 25th showed that 58 people have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total active cases to 222.