By Theresa Goodwin
The official identification cards for vaccinated residents and assist the police in monitoring the patrons of various business establishments are expected to be in circulation next week.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas confirmed yesterday that the cards and the machines were already on island and should have been cleared by the end of the business day.
He also explained that the issuance of the cards should help ease some of the restrictions that been introduced last week to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“That is going to go a great way in helping to get the police and other persons that will be hired to work along with them to ensure that we can enforce the provisions when the circumstances permit us to go back to perhaps an 11 pm curfew, and bars and restaurants are able to accommodate patrons once more,” Nicholas said.
The latest round of restrictions that were introduced last week saw the closure of bars and gyms for two weeks and restaurants limited to takeout service only.
Businessowners have complained about the move and the impact on their establishments. Many have also thrown their support behind a petition demanding an easing of the rules for vaccinated customers and compliant businesses.
Over 300 people have now signed the document – exceeding the organiser’s target. Minister Nicholas said the government is holding talks with those behind the petition and others who are expressing similar interest and the dialogue will continue.
“The business community have expressed that they are not able to deal with another shutdown, but the seriousness of the matter we were faced with, with the increase in numbers, we are going to engage those business interests and work collaboratively with them to ensure that we are on the same page as it relates to vaccination, so that we do not have to revert to these measures too often in the future,” the minister said.
According to the most recent dashboard released by the Ministry of Health, 34,008 residents are fully vaccinated, while 7,053 have received the first dose of one of the four vaccines that are currently being offered in Antigua and Barbuda.