By Makeida Antonio
Business owners at Redcliffe Quay have been given an update as to how the boardwalk which joins them to Heritage Quay can be fully reopened.
On Friday, Observer went to several business establishments in the area to ascertain an ongoing issue pertaining to a closed gate on the boardwalk which they believe is negatively impacting their ability to create revenue.
Though Antigua Cruise Ports indicated two weeks ago that operations have been expanded to accommodate a free flow of cruise ship passengers into St John’s City and other tourist attractions across the island, some merchants are adamant that the gate which cuts off access to the portion of the bridge which was condemned for safety reasons contradicts this.
According to Minister of Tourism Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez, he met with these stakeholders previously and did so again on Friday afternoon. Additionally, he said that he conducted a site visit on the bridge while there on the same afternoon.
Fernandez reported the outcome of that meeting during correspondence with Observer.
“The bridge has been deemed unsafe. We have had to close it until repairs are effected. This should be completed in about four to six weeks. The piles have rotted and must be replaced. The intention is to use concrete piles instead,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the tourism season intensifies, Fernandez believes that the current protocols and measures in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 will protect not only visitors but citizens. He made these comments on Sunday during a welcome of three major cruise lines.
“Protocols have been put in place even before the cruise industry restarted because persons were operating by air – the hotel guests, so we already had the protocols in place, and they have been tested and proven,” he assured the public.
The Minister of Tourism remains confident that liaisons with the Ministry of Health prove that protocol training, in addition to public measures still in place such as temperature checks, hand washing, mask wearing and the 11 pm to 5 am curfew, will ensure smooth operations throughout the season.
“We have no known cases of someone spreading to somebody on the tour. We trained all our tour personnel, our operators who would come in contact, our frontline workers in tourism, are fully trained. We are confident now having gone through over 12 months of interacting with tourists via the airport that we can properly manage the flow now from the cruise ships,” Fernandez told Observer.