By Shermain Bique-Charles
Some countries in the region are currently examining the benefits of a policy decision taken by the hotel sector in Antigua and Barbuda, to allow only vaccinated visitors on their premises.
That’s according to the Executive Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA) Vernon Jeffers, who also told Observer in an interview Thursday, that these countries are discussing ways they can perhaps implement similar measures.
“We have destinations such as Barbados and Jamaica who are continuing to look at the benefits of the decision that was taken several weeks ago, and this has aided us to continue to ensure that cancelations are reduced,” he said
Meanwhile, Jeffers said the category 4 rating by the United States continues to affect the sector.
“We have been negatively affected and I feel as we continue to have more and more of the population vaccinated, we will see more opening up of the economy and a better rating,” he said.
However, Jeffers remain optimistic that people who are hesitant in taking the vaccine will eventually take the jab.
“The news is not all dire…I think as time passes and those who are hesitant, I’m hoping that they see that those who have been vaccinated have not been having negative side effects and they in turn can go out and get vaccinated,” he said
The ABHTA Executive Chairman said he is also concerned about the current climate where the vaccinations are concerned.
“I want to see the population working together. This is not an us against them. It isn’t about the membership of the association working against the workers or the public. It is all of us working together to ensure our economy rebounds,” he said.
Using the adage “a rising tide floats all boats”, Jeffers said it is in the best interest of everyone that residents “go out and get vaccinated”.
The mandatory vaccine policy implemented by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda which took effect on October 1st has yielded many benefits, according to reports.
The aim, according to the government, is to achieve herd immunity against the deadly Covid-19 virus that has killed close to 100 residents already.
Although the policy has received pushback from some sectors of the population, the government said vaccination numbers have climbed, so much so, that it could achieve its 80,000 target by the end of the year.