Just days after it was revealed that U.S. tourists were threatening legal action over Antigua and Barbuda’s mandatory coronavirus testing protocols, the twin-island Caribbean nation has updated its travel advisory for arriving visitors.
According to an update signed by Anthony Liverpool, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Antigua and Barbuda, issued last Thursday (July 2nd), all arriving passengers by air must have a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR (real time polymerase chain reaction) taken within seven days of their flight. (This includes transiting passengers).
Previously, presenting a negative COVID-19 test before arrival was not required.
The change in procedure comes after a report surfaced last week claiming that tourists from the United States were pushing back on Antigua and Barbuda’s orders for coronavirus testing upon arrival.
In a report first published by AntiguaNewsroom.com on June 27th, Prime Minister Gaston Browne revealed that American tourists arriving in Antigua were creating challenges for the government and suggested that local health and safety protocols would change.
The PM revealed that some tourists had threatened legal action over the country’s requirement for a coronavirus test.
Browne said that tourists who tested positive for COVID-19 did not follow the mandatory local quarantine orders and booked flights back to the United States the day after receiving a positive diagnosis.
“Some guests are saying you don’t have the right to put anything in my nose,” Browne told AntiguaNewsroom.com.
It is not clear if the country’s change in protocols are directly linked to a specific lawsuit involving one or more American tourists.
Health & safety protocols in effect
Antigua and Barbuda officially reopened to international travellers on June 4th as part of the country’s first phase of reopening, which is supposed to last from June through September.
Several health and safety protocols are in effect, such as the mandatory wearing of face masks at all ports of entry and in public spaces, health screenings and temperature checks at each point of entry, and social distancing guidelines.
Additionally, as per country’s updated protocols, all arriving passengers must also:
- Complete a Health Declaration Form.
- Be monitored for COVID-19 for periods of up to 14 days in accordance with the directions of the Quarantine Authority and the Quarantine (COVID-19) Guidelines.
- May be required to undergo testing for COVID-19 on arrival or at the hotel or place of lodging as determined by the Health Authorities.
Arriving passengers with symptoms of COVID 19 may be isolated as determined by the Health Authorities. Passengers arriving by sea are subject to quarantine according to guidelines issued by Port Health.
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