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US tourist recounts ‘harrowing’ ordeal with health officials at airport – and vows never to return to Antigua

by Leon Norville
leon.norville@antiguaobserver.com

A woman who arrived in Antigua and Barbuda on Saturday’s inaugural Jet Blue flight from Newark, New Jersey, said she will never return to the country after being allegedly mishandled by immigration officers, a police officer and health officials at VC Bird International Airport.

Teiandra Simon, a United States citizen, told Observer that after disembarking the aircraft on July 3she proceeded through immigration where her ordeal began.

She said after being told to wait on the side of the immigration queue she was instructed to present her passport to an immigration officer who proceeded to pass her travel document to at least three people.

A concerned Simon asked for her passport to be returned to her out of fear of losing it. She alleged she was also mishandled by a police officer while waiting to be processed by immigration.

After around two hours, during which a further three flights had landed and their passengers cleared, immigration officials finally gave Simon the green light to proceed to customs where she was reunited with her bags – which she also expressed concern about as they had been left unattended due to the delay.

The unvaccinated passenger, who was visiting Antigua for a short five-day vacation, said at the health checkpoint she presented her negative PCR test and was told she would have to quarantine at Jolly Beach Resort which she was uncomfortable with as she had already made arrangements to stay in a private home in Upper Gambles.

Simon likened the quarantine facility to a prison.

She said, “The food is atrocious, the fan is broken in my room, and the water is brown. Why would you pay for something that is run down?”

She said she then asked if she could stay at a Covid-19 certified property after seeing the condition of the facility, a request which was denied by the receptionist and nurse on property as she had already been assigned to the government quarantine facility.



US visitor Teiandra Simon chided the conditions at the facility (Photos contributed)

The entire experience left a bad impression on the woman who said she has since booked a return flight to the United States to leave today.

She said, “I would not subject myself to live in prison and I didn’t do anything. This facility is not a nice place to be.”

She added, “I will not come back to Antigua, and I will tell people that Antigua is not a place for you to be any time soon.”

Simon said, on return to the US, she will file a grievance report against the police officer that allegedly mishandled her, and she will file complaints with Jet Blue and the United States Embassy about her ordeal in Antigua and Barbuda.

Efforts to reach health officials for comment were unsuccessful up to press time.

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