State of emergency likely to be extended

Cabinet spokesman Melford Nicholas
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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Although not definitive, the government may very well decide to extend the state of emergency in Antigua and Barbuda which expires at the end of this month.

Information Minister Melford Nicholas said on Thursday that, even though the matter has not yet been discussed at Cabinet level, “I am sure we will give active consideration to extending it”.

The reason, according to Nicholas, is primarily because the country is in a period of enhanced risk since opening its borders to international travellers.

“Persons who have become lax in their attitudes towards the health protocols; it is indeed time to issue a clarion call for them to pay close attention, reverting back to the severity of the risk we face,” he continued.

For the state of emergency to be extended, the government would have to go back to parliament in order to make it legal.

“We are more than likely going to extend it. We will have to go back to parliament because the original mandate would coincide with July 31,” he explained.

Nicholas suspects that the government will also seek to extend the curfew, but not as severe as it was in March when residents had a very narrow window to be out and about.

“Should there be a sequence of events that should cause the risk to rise again … we may be forced to have another shutdown…but the government must have the option to be able to revert to that particular position,” Minister Nicholas said.

Currently, the country is under an 11pm to 5am curfew, which restricts all but non-essential workers from being outside their homes during those hours.

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