Tourism minister supports lockdown if Covid-19 cases spike

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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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If a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections forces a new shutdown in Antigua and Barbuda, the already struggling tourism sector will no doubt plummet – but the man at the helm of that industry is nonetheless supporting suggestions to partially close the country.

Information Minister Melford Nicholas said last week that government could be left with no choice but to embark on a national lockdown if Covid-19 numbers continue to climb.

Antigua and Barbuda currently has 27 active cases out of the 189 confirmed to date, while six people have died.

Yesterday, Tourism Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez told Observer that while tourism will receive the hardest blow of any such lockdown, the lives of residents are paramount.

 “I agree that if there is especially a community spread, we have to consider a lockdown. At the end of the day, the safety of residents is our priority. It is not something we would like to see,” he admitted.

Fernandez also urged residents to continue to adhere to the Covid-19 protocols and warnings issued by the Ministry of Health.

 “We intend to continue to work with them and we will be guided by what they have advised us to do to keep our people safe which is our number one priority,” he said.

A new list of guidelines is expected to be rolled out this week. Last week, the government restricted access to all of the offshore islands for a period of 90 days.

As part of the new measures, the protocols governing weddings and funerals may also be reverted.

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