New policy to be rolled out amidst threats of action from visitors

Prime Minister Gaston Browne
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By Latrishka Thomas

Threats of litigation by guests to Antigua and Barbuda have forced the government’s hand says Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who on Saturday announced that all potential travelers to the country will have to be tested before traveling.

Browne said that the policy will be implemented as of this week due to the fact that “a number of passengers have become somewhat litigious, and we have had inquiries as to whether or not the  government has the right to do these invasive swabs of passengers coming to the country.”

He disclosed that the government has been made aware by one visitor – of international health regulations, “which she reckons precludes countries from doing those invasive swabs.”

In addition to that, “we have also had a situation too, in which several of the guests who actually had tested positive for Covid, what they did is that they changed their flights and they returned to the United States the following day even though they were placed in isolation,” Browne added.

He said that at least two of those individuals accused health officials of “violating their constitutional right, their right to travel, that they’d be holding them against their will,” and therein threatened to sue.

Further to that, one woman claimed that if she was to stay in Antigua for an additional week, she would lose her job and consequently have to take the government to court.

Thus, in an effort to avoid litigation, the government will be clamping down on all potential travelers, including returning nationals.

“So for example, on Monday we will have the Cuban students who have been clamouring to come back home. There is a special charter to bring them back home, but we have already communicated to them that they will all have to do Covid tests, and they will have to be negative in order to return home. Any one of them who proves to be positive will not be eligible to come back on that flight,” the Prime Minister stated.

This new plan comes just a few days after the country recorded 39 additional cases of the coronavirus from individuals who recently arrived here.

Nineteen of those included returning nationals from the Dominican Republic.

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