ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda, March 26, 2020 (CMC) — The Antigua and Barbuda government says the V.C. Bird International Airport will be closed, to all incoming international commercial air traffic, emanating from North America and Europe, as of midnight, today.
In a statement, the Cabinet said that the decision ends the “possibility of flights from the customary North American and European tourism source markets, for two weeks, in the first instance.”
It said the regional airline, LIAT, which is headquartered, here, cargo craft, private jets and small private aircraft will be allowed to fly, into and out, of V.C. Bird International, including flights to and from Anguilla, Barbuda, Montserrat, by the customary small carriers.
“This decision expands the announced ban on citizens from several identified countries. Those citizens, of those several countries, who would have arrived on British Airways, American Airlines and Air Canada, among others, may wish to take advantage of the facility.”
The statement said that commercial air carriers that choose to fly empty aircraft to Antigua and Barbuda, after today, will be allowed to enter, in order to collect citizens of their respective countries for return to their originating cities.
“While there has been no confirmed cases of community spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the government’s several ministries have been closely monitoring all developments, here and abroad. Antigua and Barbuda’s borders have remained open to air and sea traffic, in order to ensure that workers, across the several sectors, remain employed,” the statement added.
But the statement said it has now become evident, “after examining the extant conditions, and the disregard, displayed by attendees at funerals, that little or no attention is being paid to the announced policy of limited social gatherings of 25 persons. That policy is being violated, despite the severity of the threat of community spread of the coronavirus”.
The statement said that the announced policy, which limits social gatherings to 25 persons, has been disregarded and violated, especially by returning nationals, “who feel a strong urge to re-connect with grieving family and friends”.
“Funerals have served as a means of social expression of love and tenderness. However, the conditions of the spread of the coronavirus have compelled a change in behaviour,” the statement said, adding that “Cabinet repeats its determination to safeguard the health of the people of Antigua and Barbuda”.