By Kadeem Joseph
While people all over are hoping that efforts to vaccinate the world’s population will mean some return to normalcy, residents and visitors to the country’s shores are being told that they will not be exempt from quarantine and other Covid-19 restrictions just yet, despite being fully vaccinated against the deadly virus.
The announcement came from Minister of Information Melford Nicholas during Thursday morning’s post-Cabinet press briefing.
“The world over, there has not been any relaxation of the protocols dealing with persons who have had vaccines, so our position is still that persons who are arriving here and who would need to be involved with the population would still need to present a negative PCR test,” he said.
He added that while being inoculated with a “worthy vaccine” is welcomed, people will still need to abide by quarantine protocols, at least “until more effective studies are in to give reasons to change those particular protocols”.
At present, returning nationals of Antiguan and Barbudan are likely to be placed in government quarantine, while tourists are expected to abide by the requirements for their places of stay.
Minister Nicholas’ comments come as the government continues to push toward the return of the tourism industry and regular travel.
According to notes from the Cabinet, there were discussions held on the return of cruise tourism, likely to restart in a few months.
There also was a discussion about a fixed contractual arrangement between the vessels and the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC), in the event a passenger falls ill and requires hospitalisation that is beyond the capacity of the ship’s sick bay.
Minister Nicholas said the country’s sole public hospital will be able to handle the possible increase in volume since the number of people hospitalised due to Covid-19 has decreased and less people have been presenting to the emergency room due to Covid-19 related symptoms.
Additionally, the minister said that cruise liners will be ensuring that passengers are tested before travel and are vaccinated as well therefore the likelihood that someone would get sick due to the Covid-19 virus is “minimal”.
While cruise industry insiders are hoping for a return of the sector soon, there has been no set date for these massive vessels to return to the Caribbean waters.