By Latrishka Thomas
All of the 12 senators who were present for the Upper House debate yesterday voted in favour of removing the State of Emergency (SOE).
That brings the country one step closer to the semblance of normalcy for which residents have yearned for almost two years. The curfew will now be lifted.
After receiving all yeas, the President of the Senate said: “I cannot recall that ever happening since I’ve been in this seat.”
But despite being in support of the change, each senator admonished the public to continue complying with the existing regulations
“We cannot be [saying] ‘oh the state of emergency is dropping we can start liming now, we can start doing what we please but let’s not drop our guard. Let’s not go around not wearing masks and not washing our hands’, because if we start doing these things we will start seeing a rise in cases,” Government Senator Aziza Lake stated.
Opposition Senator Shawn Nicholas was of like mind when she called on residents to take personal responsibility and “do not see this as the end of the pandemic”.
Nicholas, however, maintained the United Progressive Party’s opinion that the SOE was never needed.
“All that was being done could have been done under the Public Health Act…we continue to maintain that the continued renewal of the State of Emergency was never necessary, but we welcome it, nonetheless at this time and say it’s about time,” she opined.
On the other hand, ruling party Senator Gail Christian stated that the government was merely acting in the best interest of the people 20 months ago when the SOE was instituted.
“We are fighting an enemy whose face we really do not know, and whether the government is blue, red, pink or purple, it has to rise to the occasion and do what is best in the interest of Antigua and Barbuda,” she exclaimed.
Now that the law has gone through the Upper House, it must now be signed by the Governor General and placed in the Gazette to make it official.
Thereafter, the SOE will be lifted as of 12am on Christmas Eve, thereby allowing residents to roam freely at any hour of the day.