The Antigua and Barbuda government said it will decide on December 15 whether or not to lift the state of emergency (SOE) that has been put in place since March 2020.
In a statement following the weekly Cabinet meeting, the Gaston Browne administration said that Cabinet will convene next Wednesday “for the very last time in 2021” and that the “decision to ratify the lifting—or a possible extension—of the State of Emergency and the accompanying curfew will be announced the following day when the Parliament will convene”.
The statement said that the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus is being studied closely and “should it prove more lethal than the Delta variant, then enforcement of restrictions may follow.
“The Cabinet will be guided by the science and relevant data, not guesswork,” the statement said, urging people who have not yet been vaccinated against the virus to “take the no-cost vaccine now. “The best vaccine is the available vaccine and at least four types are currently available in plentiful stockpiles. There are presently available doses of AstraZeneca, J&J, SputnikV, Pfizer, and Sinopharm,” the statement said.
It said that during the Antigua and Barbudan Cabinet meeting, promoters of fetes were invited to address members on issues raised concerning vaccination and testing for COVID-19 since the announcement made two weeks ago that fetes could be held under specified conditions.
The statement said that the promoters shared with Cabinet that 300 paying patrons attending a fete will not be profitable and have suggested that a larger maximum would be profitable.
“The Minister of Cultural Industries proposed a compromise number and that is to be discussed with health professionals and other stakeholders before Cabinet agrees on a final number,” the statement said, adding that the promoters proposed that the entire cost of testing be absorbed by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, despite being given all testing kits at no cost.
“The promoters argued that in many places, including bars and outdoor entertainment venues, patrons usually exceed the 300-person limit which the Cabinet was imposing on the fetes. They argued that fete organizers were restricted to allowing only fully vaccinated persons plus patrons who tested negative within 24 hours prior to, or on the night of, the event, to enter the fete.
“Yet, these other unsupervised events had no proof of the vaccination status of their patrons, nor did they test the patrons before entering the bars and entertainment venues. The promoters argued that their events would not likely be a super-spreader like those others could be. The Cabinet debunked that argument, promising to ensure that those bars and venues that disobey the law would be pursued more vigorously,” the statement said.