By Shermain Bique-Charles
Prime Minister Gaston Browne is hoping that the distribution of vaccines across the world would boost travel this year.
In his New Year’s address to the nation, he said the vaccination will bring high levels of safety in the resumption of normal life as well.
“We look forward to the arrival, within our shores, of vaccines that our government took the proactive step of ordering a few months ago,” he said.
Vaccination or not, Browne said his government will continue to ensure safety measures remains in place, to safeguard residents of Antigua and Barbuda.
“Even as we envision a year that will be a springboard to a brighter future, we will continue to put first the safety of our people. Air travel to our country will increase and expand in the coming months, precisely because we have made Antigua and Barbuda safe and desirable,” he said.
Although the government received pushback from a small section of the public after the boarders were reopened, Browne believes that has helped the twin island state maintain the advantage of increased visitor arrivals, to keep hotels open, businesses humming, and employment growing.
“That is why until we have inoculated every person in our society, each of us continues to owe the responsibility to keep the other safe. Strict adherence to the protocols including: Physical distancing, wearing masks and hand sanitizing; continue to be vital until inoculations have been delivered to all,” he said.
Adding, “So, as we continue to keep our borders open this winter, providing hundreds of thousands of visitors a safe haven, a secure refuge and important relief from the stresses and strains of COVID-19; we shall also maintain the protocols that have kept our people healthy and made our country safe and attractive,” he said.
Despite the deep economic scars of COVID 19, Browne said his government remain confident about a quick labour market recovery by the fourth quarter of next year; however, “as I said before, we must remain vigilant in protecting each other from the spread of COVID during the next few months to avert a protracted recovery”, he said.