‘Flagrant violations’ blamed for tough new Covid rules

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Extended curfew comes into effect 8pm Friday

By Theresa Goodwin

[email protected]

Government has announced a raft of new restrictive measures – including the closure of all bars in the country for 21 days and a curfew extension – in response to a spike in local coronavirus infections.

Fourteen new cases have been recorded over the past few days, taking the total number of confirmed cases, since the start of the outbreak in March 2020, to 212 – 35 of which are active. Eight persons are also said to be hospitalised at the Infectious Diseases Control Centre at the old Holberton Hospital compound.

The new measures also include a change in curfew hours. Information Minister Melford Nicholas disclosed that as of this Friday, curfew will be extended from the current 11pm to 5am, to 8pm to 5am, significantly reducing night-time activity.

In addition to bar closures, restaurants will be limited to take-out services only. Nicholas blamed “recalcitrant behaviour” among the public for the strict measures.

All sporting activities, including football and basketball, will also be curtailed for the three-week period.

“The regular church services will be expected to continue as they are being monitored and managed effectively by members of the clergy in conjunction with the Ministry of Health,” Nicholas said.

With respect to weddings and funerals the minister said, “We are obliged to limit the numbers to 25 in each instance. There will be no wakes and there certainly will not be any celebrations at the weddings or receptions that would normally take place.”

The minister also outlined that all returning residents will be required to quarantine for 14 days at a public facility and will have to cover the cost of their stay as well as meals. The fees, he said, will not surpass EC$100 per day.

“We are asking persons to limit their travel outside the country unless it is absolutely essential. Should they decide to travel they have to make up their minds to prepare to be in quarantine for 14 days in a public facility,” Nicholas cautioned.

People told to quarantine in a private property, based on the discretion of the health authorities, will be required to wear a tracking bracelet.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas acknowledged the nation was feeling “Covid fatigue” but urged residents to abide by regulations in place to help stem virus contagion.

Officials said they were still analysing whether or not the country had seen dreaded community spread, which is when someone gets the virus without any known contact with a sick person.

Health Minister Molwyn Joseph blamed “flagrant violations” for the impending fresh restrictions and told listeners repeatedly that Antigua and Barbuda was waging a “war against Covid”. He said any relaxation next month would depend on “each and every citizen” taking “personal responsibility” for Covid safety.

The parish of St Paul – which includes the lively sailing hub of English Harbour – was said to have recorded the most coronavirus cases in the country.

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