Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Antigua and Barbuda to extend 24-hour curfew through April 23 due to COVID-19 activity. Other restrictions remain in place.

This alert affects Antigua and Barbuda

This alert began 16 Apr 2020 09:13 GMT and is scheduled to expire 24 Apr 2020 06:00 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through 2359 April 23
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, increased security

Summary
Authorities in Antigua and Barbuda have extended the 24-hour nationwide curfew until at least 2359 April 23 as part of continued efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Emergency, health, security, telecommunications, and sanitation services, as well as other critical government workers, are exempt from the measure. Supermarkets, grocery stores, fuel stations, and certain financial institutions will still be able to service the public 0700-1200 only. Failure to comply with the measure will result in a fine and/or imprisonment.

Some restrictions have been eased as of April 16; hardware stores, marine services, as well as construction, landscape mechanics, and vehicle parts and maintenance businesses will be able to open 0700-1200. Residents will also be allowed to exercise outside 0700-1200, while still practicing social distancing. All nonessential services and businesses, as well as schools, are to remain closed. All social and religious gatherings are banned. Private vehicles will be restricted to two occupants only.

These internal measures are in addition to the closure of VC Bird International Airport (ANU) to all incoming commercial passenger flights since March 27. In addition, all sea vessels must arrive at Nevis Street Pier in Saint John's. All inbound pleasure crafts, passenger vessels, and ferries will be denied entry; however, cargo transport is largely unaffected but may be subject to disruptions. The flight suspension is an escalation of the temporary entry ban for all nonresident foreign nationals who have traveled in China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea within 28 days of arrival. Departing flights for repatriation purposes will not be affected; however, the availability of such flights is likely to decrease over the coming days and weeks. It is unclear how long these restrictions will remain in place.

The measures in place will significantly impact business and transport in the country, with an increased police presence in the streets. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic March 11.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int