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 on Thursday.
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 in the country, 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.
“The government’s several ministries have been closely monitoring all developments, here and abroad.”— statement from government
“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.”
Threat of community spread
The statement said that commercial air carriers that choose to fly empty aircraft to Antigua after Thursday 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 said.
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.”