Tourism staff redeployed to scrutinise hotels, Airbnbs for Covid safety

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Tourism workers whose usual jobs have been curtailed due to the coronavirus have been redeployed as compliance officers – tasked with ensuring hotels and other accommodations are abiding by Covid rules.

The staff have been taken from various tourism-related departments to form a new unit within the Ministry of Tourism.

They will now be making constant checks on properties which have been certified to reopen to guests to ensure they remain in compliance. More than 200 properties have so far been certified and approved for operation in Antigua and Barbuda since the reopening of the country’s borders on June 1.

“The unit is divided into two teams consisting of four persons each which are deployed according to districts, and approximately five properties are inspected daily,” explained the ministry’s St Clair Soleyn.

The process will continue until the pandemic is deemed over by the World Health Organization.

“The certification and compliance process is going to be cyclic as there is currently a growing room-stock of persons who have private homes and rooms that are placed on platforms such as Airbnb and we have to ensure that they conform to the general set of standards as the larger properties,” she said.

Any properties found to be non-compliant will be notified and recommendations made for improvement. Subsequent checks will then be done and any property found to still be in breach risks having its certificate to operate revoked.

Owners and operators of all small and large hotel properties, inclusive of Airbnb properties with stand-alone units, wishing to restart business are asked to register for inspection and certification with the Ministry of Tourism by calling 468-4055.

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