Antigua extends states of emergency to curb COVID-19

Prime Minister Gaston Browne

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has extended the state of emergency (SOE) that was implemented to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.

The SOE was due to expire on June 28, but will now continue until September 30.

Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne defended the government’s decision to extend the measure.

“If your issue is with the restrictions then make your case, but to say that we should be using the Public Health Act instead of the state of emergency to justify the restriction, I mean it is half a dozen, practically the same thing,” Browne told legislators.

“As far as we are concerned, the state of emergency gives us the type of legal protection in that whereas the fundamental rights have been abridged as a result of the measures, the state of emergency does provide for those abrogation or derogations,” he added.

However, the country’s opposition questioned the government’s extended use of the measure.

“How long does this government going to keep us under a state of emergency. I hear they are talking about political activity. This is not about political activity. You know how many persons are stressed under these times. To think of it mentally, how it weighs down an individual,” Opposition leader, Jamal Pringle said.

“Mr Speaker we cannot continue with a state of emergency when the government can use other means of managing this COVID-19,” he added.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Antigua and Barbuda has recorded 1, 253 COVID-19 cases, and 42 deaths.