Antigua and Barbuda has welcomed the decision of the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to place the island in the Level 1 category or low risk for coronavirus (COVID-19).
Antigua and Barbuda had previously been at Level 3 or high risk and the Level 1 ranking is assigned to countries where the rate of COVID-19 transmission is low.
“It is excellent news for us. It means that we have been doing something right. It is tremendous news for tourism. As you know the US is our number one market and we are really thrilled about it,” said Ambassador Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, chief of staff in the Antigua and Barbuda government.
He said this is why it is “so important for us to understand that whatever measures put in place to ensure that lives and livelihoods are both protected.
“Because when you want to travel somewhere you want to know you travel somewhere that is safe, apart from the fact that Antigua is very safe in terms of the low level of crime. Health is now number one on people’s list as far as it concerns traveling,” he said.
In its statement, the CDC still recommends travelers be fully vaccinated before venturing to countries with Level 1 risk status.
Antigua and Barbuda has recorded 1, 263 cases of the virus and 42 deaths since March last year.
The government has embarked upon a vaccination drive offering people here incentives, including a parcel of land as it seeks to acquire herd immunity by having at least 70 per cent of the population vaccinated against the virus that has killed and infected millions of people worldwide.
Last month, the government said it had established a Cabinet Sub-Committee to help source funding as island continues to be seriously impacted by the pandemic.
A government statement said that the virus “has had a terrible impact on revenue, reducing the same by more than 40 per cent”.
According to the statement, “many borrowing sources have been fully exhausted, locally, and moratoria granted by local banks to the Government will soon come to an end.”