Tourism minister expresses concern over revised travel advisory for Antigua and Barbuda

Tourism Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez (file photo)
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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised its travel advisory for Antigua and Barbuda, as the country is currently experiencing another rise in Covid-19 cases.

The twin island state has now been placed at level 2, which means that there is a moderate risk that visitors can be infected with the virus once they arrive here.

The CDC is therefore advising travellers to make sure that they are fully vaccinated before journeying to the twin island, noting that unvaccinated visitors who are at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19 should avoid non-essential travel to the country.

Tourism Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez told Observer that given the recent developments, he has two main concerns.

“The first one is the safety of our people. We don’t want a situation where we are bringing people in to save livelihoods and at the same time it’s causing us lives. And, of course, the second thing is to be able to have our visitors, even our families, visit us and feel safe to visit us. And so, whenever you have these advisories coming out, it’s definitely an impediment to people who want to travel,” he stated.

Fernandez averred that the twin island was “doing a pretty good job with the Ministry of Health along with the all-important input of the people of Antigua and Barbuda.”

He also pointed to the economic cost of having increases in Covid-19 cases, given the fact that “there are thousands and thousands of families in Antigua and Barbuda who depend on tourism.

“It is most unfortunate that we can have people who tend to flaunt the guidelines put out by the Ministry of Health and put everything — those livelihoods and people’s families lives at risk,” he added.

However, he did not denounce the CDC’s authority on the matter.

“At the end of the day, what really denotes whether a country is ‘safe’, depends on the level that is put out by the CDC. So, the point about it is that the CDC, who is the ultimate authority in the US, are saying that these are how we rank the countries in terms of safety related to Covid-19,” Fernandez stated.

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