By Carl Joseph
The Barbuda Council has ordered all Barbuda ports of entry to be closed as of midnight Friday for 14 days.
Council secretary, Paul Nedd, said the decision was made “in order to secure and safeguard the Barbuda population from the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic”. The secretary indicated that the Council paid great attention to guidelines made by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the virus’s “incubation period” of one to 14 days.
According to the notice sent out on Tuesday by the Council, the ban applies to all non-essential travel. Essential travel, the notice outlined, includes emergency medevac for patients, banking charter flights, cargo vessels, fuel barge and sand barge visits.
Nedd told Observer that formal written notice had already been sent to most, if not all, affected companies including key carriers such as the Barbuda Express ferry, Island Xcape, Island Breeze, BM Air, SVG Air, and the PLH development company which has both air and sea transport.
Notice has also been given to the customs and immigration departments on the sister isle for there to be no disembarkation of passengers from vessels arriving from outside Antigua and Barbuda.
The “essential” vessels will have to be cleared in St John’s before they come to Barbuda.
“And still, when they arrive, they will be mandated for health and customs checks,” the secretary informed.
Town hall meetings had been convened to discuss the ports and the decision, the Council stated, has consensus agreement by the residents of Barbuda.
“People have actually made it clear, but that it is a bit late. Some of them have said we should have done it already. But we are now taking proactive measures, not just from the Council’s decision, but also based on decisions from the public,” Nedd said. The secretary said the ban will be reviewed at the end of the 14 days.