The following is a letter sent today to Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley from Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, drawing to her attention the wrongful classification of Antigua and Barbuda by Barbados as a ‘medium risk’ jurisdiction for COVID-19.
Dear Prime Minister
I present my compliments and bring to your attention a matter which may have escaped your personal awareness amid the heavy and pressing work schedule that, as a fellow Head of Government, I fully appreciate you face.
The matter concerns the current unwarranted classification of Antigua and Barbuda as a ‘medium risk’ jurisdiction for COVID-19 by the authorities in Barbados. This current classification is an amendment from a previous even more underserved designation of ‘high risk’. The amendment took place after alarm was raised by Antigua and Barbuda’s Foreign Minister.
Our two countries have suffered when other countries and regions have unilaterally applied classifications to them. Most recently, the arbitrary classification of Barbados by the European Union as a “high-risk” country regarding anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing, was rightly protested by you and your government. My government and I, personally, raised our voices in support of Barbados to decry this arbitrary action.
You will understand, therefore, my Government’s deep concern about Barbados’ classification of Antigua and Barbuda as ‘high risk’ or ‘medium risk’, when the facts tell a quite different story. You will further appreciate our disquiet when Barbados departs from the position taken by CARICOM Heads of Government to apply the CARPHA standard of 20 active cases for a population of 100,000. In Antigua and Barbuda’s case, we have only 4 infected persons, well below the threshold set by CARPHA.
In today’s interconnected world, this unilateral classification of Antigua and Barbuda by Barbados receives international attention. It has led to anxiety in our struggling tourism industry and has adversely affected the employment and wellbeing of our people.
In the circumstances, I am confident that, based on your commitment to fairness and right, and to the facts, you will intervene personally to ensure that the regional standard, established by CARPHA, and agreed by Heads of Government, is applied by the Barbados authorities to Antigua and Barbuda, placing the country in the ‘low risk’ category it merits.
I look forward to an early and favourable response from you.
Gaston Browne M.P.