By Orville Williams
In a bid to assure visitors of their safety while vacationing in Antigua and Barbuda, the Health Ministry will be establishing an identification system that will publicise the vaccination status of businesses and individuals that operate within the tourism sector.
An example of this ID system can be found in the vaccination cards given to persons who receive doses both here and abroad, which are presented to immigration staff at points of entry around the world to assure of one’s vaccination status.
The difference with this upcoming project by the Health Ministry, is that the visitors will not need to ask anyone to present the “vaccine IDs”, instead they will be displayed on the workers’ persons, as well as on the places of business.
Information Minister, Melford Nicholas, explained the details of the upcoming project in the post-Cabinet media briefing on Thursday.
“As the cruise tourism trade returns, many of the shops in Heritage Quay that are closed now would get some form of identification – on their windows presumably, in a very visible way – to indicate that [in] these stores, the employees are fully vaccinated.
“That stamp of approval will be granted by the Ministry of Health after inspection and after they would have been satisfied that all of the employees are in fact vaccinated.
“The same thing will be true for the taxis themselves, not only with the taxi drivers, but the taxi vehicles as well, will be able to show these emblems.
Just this week, it was disclosed that some taxi operators are already being questioned by visitors in regard to their vaccination status, meaning this identification project is a shrewd call, with the country just weeks away from welcoming cruises back.
The possibility of breaches occurring in the system has also not gone unconsidered, with Nicholas adding that there will be careful planning going into the IDs to be given to individual operators.
The idea is to make that identification unique to the individual, so that it cannot be shared, [but] the final version of it is not [yet] in.
With the competition for tourist arrivals across the region heating up, the authorities will be hopeful that these measures will suffice for the tourists looking to soak up some sun, but still remain safe.