Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Antigua and Barbuda reduces curfew to 2100-0500 May 13-June 12 due to COVID-19. Airport to reopen June 1. Some movement restrictions eased.

This alert affects Antigua and Barbuda

This alert began 14 May 2020 11:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through June 12
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, increased security

Summary
Authorities in Antigua and Barbuda have reduced the curfew hours to 2100-0500 daily, and eased some restrictions on public movements, as of May 14 until 0500 June 12. The measure replaces the 24-hour curfew and forms part of government efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Residents are not allowed outside their homes during curfew; emergency and critical services are exempt.

Outside of curfew hours, essential services, including emergency, health, security, telecommunications, and sanitation services, as well as other critical government workers and businesses, will continue to operate normally. The operating hours for previously authorized businesses and facilities have now been expanded to 0500-2100. Registered livestock and vegetable farmers may still operate 0400-1800, and licensed fishermen between 0200-1800. Under the new measures, personal services, including barbershops, beauty salons, and nail salons may reopen as long as they attain the relevant health certification. All businesses must ensure social distancing between customers and limit the number of people within their facilities.

The government has eased other restrictions on public movements and leisure activities. Beaches are allowed to reopen between 0500-1900 daily. Tennis and swimming will be permitted from May 18 under social distancing protocols. Churches are now permitted to conduct ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, with no more than 25 people, provided social distancing measures are enforced and all persons wear a protective face mask.

The government has also announced plans for the reopening of VC Bird International Airport (ANU) from June 1; the airport has been closed to all incoming commercial passenger flights since March 27. All arriving passengers will be subject to enhanced health screening and a mandatory 14-day quarantine. All inbound pleasure crafts, passenger vessels, and ferries will be denied entry; however, cargo transport is largely unaffected but may be subject to disruptions. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic March 11. The government's decision to ease restrictions was likely taken in response to indications that the spread of the disease has been adequately contained locally and at the need to allow economic recovery. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, relaxed restrictions may be reapplied. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in further relaxation of restrictions.

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.


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