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By Elesha George

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A fee of US$100 will be imposed on visitors arriving in Antigua and Barbuda. The fee is meant to cover the cost of rapid testing for Covid-19.

The charge, which took effect from June 1, forms part of the Quarantine Act (Covid-19) (Charges for Testing) Regulations 2020.

“All visitors to Antigua and Barbuda shall be tested for Covid-19 and shall pay a charge of One Hundred Dollars (US $100.00) United States Currency or its equivalent in Eastern Caribbean Dollars as a charge for the test. The charge is payable to the Quarantine Authority,” according to regulations outlined in Wednesday’s publication of the Gazette.

The money will be paid into a consolidated fund that will be used to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the regulations, persons are liable to be sued for unpaid charges which “can be recovered on behalf of the Crown as a civil debt owed to the Crown”.

The Sofia 2 SARS Antigen Fluorescent Immunoassay (FIA) test eliminates the need for visitors to present a valid certificate showing that they are free of Covid-like symptoms at least 48 hours before arriving on the island.

The government is currently awaiting the shipment of more than 20,000 swabs which they say will be “sufficient to ensure that tests can be carried out on all those entering Antigua and Barbuda and anyone who may exhibit symptoms of Covid-19 infection”.

Visitors will be allowed entry into the country whether or not they exhibit Covid-like symptoms. There is, however, a protocol to have persons who have likely been exposed to, or are suspected of having the virus, confined at a government quarantine facility or at their private residence, once the quarantine authority here gives the all-clear.

Meanwhile, officials will continue to rely on PCR testing to determine a person’s eligibility to be released from quarantine sooner than 14 days, as ordered by the Quarantine Authority.

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