By Shermain Bique-Charles
Access to the terminal at VC Bird International Airport will be limited for the next three months, as part of wide-ranging coronavirus safety measures.
Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority CEO Euletta Francis told a virtual press conference on Thursday that residents will not be allowed into the terminal without good reason.
“We will not be allowing persons who are not doing specific business into the airport into the terminal. The entry and exit doors will be manned. If you are not wearing an airport ID you will not be allowed to enter if you are not a passenger,” she said.
Residents have also been asked to keep trips to the terminal as brief as possible when passengers are disembarking.
“Because the airport community is very large and there are people who work within the terminal and outside, one of the things we have asked our community is to limit their visits to the terminal once passengers are on the ground,” she explained.
Additionally, access to the elevators is limited to the physically challenged and passengers with small children only.
Antigua and Barbuda’s international airport is the largest in the Leeward Islands. It handles more than 850,000 travellers per year and accommodates over 10 airlines with direct flights connecting Antigua to the rest of the world.
On Thursday night, the airport welcomed its first commercial flight in 10 weeks when American Airlines touched down from Miami, bringing scores of nationals back home, plus a smattering of tourists. An Antiguan pilot was among the crew.
Meanwhile, there remains just one point of entry – the Nevis Street Pier – for people arriving by private yachts, until further notice. Those on board must quarantine for two weeks.
Boaters planning to come to Antigua must alert the authorities ahead of time by using the Eseaclear.com pre-notification system. They will be required to fill out a health declaration form upon arrival and a request has to be made to clear to the Coast Guard or the Port Authority.
Unless directed otherwise by authorities, yachters are to anchor between Fort James and St John’s Harbour with their Lima flag flying until they are invited in to start the clearance process.
The processing time will depend on the number of vessels ahead. Individual circumstances will be considered during screening.