By Theresa Goodwin
Government will be meeting with tourism partners to discuss possible adjustments to protocols governing the resumption of cruises, in response to a Florida law which bans businesses from asking customers for proof of vaccination.
A federal judge essentially upheld the law, which is being championed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in a preliminary injunction issued last week.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas told reporters yesterday that while the government is a strong proponent for vaccination, adjustments will have to be made in consultation with all industry players.
“We want to have further discussions with the merchants at both Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Street Pier; we will also dialogue with the taxi drivers, tour operators and Global Ports Holding in the coming weeks so that we can tweak the necessary protocols,” he said during the post-Cabinet press briefing.
Over the past few weeks, government officials have made it clear that taxi drivers and others in the sector should be vaccinated in order to benefit from the resumption of cruises.
That list was expanded this week to include vendors, water sports attendants, dive shop operators, and restaurant workers.
In addition, the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association has stated that non-vaccinated people will not be hired.
Nicholas was asked about the enforcement of vaccination in Antigua and Barbuda when industry players are softening their stance on the matter.
He insisted that the government is not trying to match what is going on with Florida; however, there is a need to strike a balance in the context of trade.
“What we are saying to all stakeholders, to trade in the industry with the risks involved, the best solution is vaccination,” said Nicholas.
In less than a month, the first cruise ship to bring visitors to Antigua and Barbuda since early last year will dock at Heritage Quay when the luxury Seabourn Odyssey arrives laden with passengers.