By Kadeem Joseph
Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a major gathering at the weekend on one of the country’s beaches that has received strong condemnation from the Health Minister.
In a locally viral video, which was widely circulated on Sunday, scores of vehicles were seen parked on both sides of the roadway along Ffryes Beach. The vehicles were outnumbered by the people gathered at the popular spot.
Many of those seen in the video were neither socially distanced nor were they wearing facemasks in accordance with present protocols.
Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph said the “recklessness” shown by those who were in attendance in the face of the global Covid-19 pandemic is troubling.
“What I saw down at Ffryes is a display of total disregard and disrespect for the frontline workers of Antigua and Barbuda [including] our doctors and nurses who have gotten sick in taking care of patients,” he said.
Joseph said he was “terrified” at what he saw and he is hoping that the gathering does not result in another surge of cases.
He said the country’s sole public hospital, the Mount St John’s Medical Centre, is already “stretched” with about four doctors currently abroad to further their studies and several nurses taking up employment overseas.
The minister was all the more concerned that the Ffryes gathering came at a time when the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 has plummeted from 42 to seven in recent weeks.
Joseph said while the police need to enforce Covid-19 protocols, people in Antigua and Barbuda must also act responsibly.
“These are adults and there has to be some expectation that people will act in a responsible manner,” he said. “We cannot always be making excuses for adults … this is what is plunging us into a disaster.”
The health minister said it would be up to the law enforcement officers to pursue these individuals and bring them to justice.
Observer has not been able to independently verify what drew so many people to the location on Sunday.