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Thursday 20th August 2020

Read The Latest Notes from Cabinet held at its last meeting.

Notes from Cabinet (Pt1)

The Cabinet invited the Head of the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) to report on the level of readiness of the shelters, the supplies and the communication devices that are necessary in order to safeguard populations during the passage of a storm or hurricane. Mr. Philmore Mullin reported to the Cabinet on the number of shelters that have been identified and the readiness of those 46 shelters across Antigua and Barbuda, in the era of the coronavirus pandemic.

Everyone hoping to utilize a shelter during the passage of a storm or hurricane will be required to undergo a temperature check, to be questioned by a health professional, and to provide certain information that will determine whether that person stays in the shelter or is transported to a bio-secure center such as the Infectious Disease Center (IDC) at the old Holberton Hospital.

Anyone who may be infected has to be isolated from those who are not. Each person will be provided a mask and will be compelled to wear the same, except when sleeping. Within the shelters, households/families will be assigned spaces that reflect their numbers; and the families will be placed at least six feet apart from others. Cots, mattresses, blankets, cleaning supplies including hand sanitizers, are in sufficient supply to safeguard the populations within the shelters.

In Barbuda, the NODS reported that the designated shelter is in a state of readiness with sufficient flashlights, sheeting, blankets and beds. A generator has been repaired at he same fisheries complex. A satellite phone is to be supplied as well as VHF sets and hand-held sets to ensure effective communication. Tarpaulin is also at the ready, and sheets of plywood are being stored for distribution following the passage of the storm or hurricane to those whose homes may be damaged by high winds.

Notes from Cabinet (Pt2)

The Cabinet invited the Director of Education, the Deputy Director and one other official to discuss the amendments to the regulations that are to be made in order to allow for the opening of the schools on September 7, 2020. The regulations that currently command any person younger than 18 years to be accompanied by an adult when entering upon the streets is to be amended.

The regulation that requires spacing of six feet between each person in certain public places will also be amended to allow for half as many feet in classrooms; masks continue to be compulsory, and the washing of hands, the sanitizing of desks, chairs, handles and bathrooms are also to be enforced. All the assistance required in order to protect both teachers and students from infection of the covid-19 disease are to be applied. There is a challenge on the buses which usually transport students from rural districts to schools in St. John’s, and return them at the end of the school day.

Private buses will be utilized as well in order to reduce the likelihood of any infected student passing on his/her infection to others. It was agreed that the challenges are many, but the Cabinet and the Ministry officials are determined to do the best for their students. Nearly 9,000 laptops are to be acquired for distribution to teachers and students in the secondary schools; and tablets to each student in the primary schools.

Notes from Cabinet (Pt3)

The Cabinet invited a former Attorney General and his client, Roger Ver, to Cabinet in order to speak about the crypto currency sector which Antigua and Barbuda is embarking upon, now that the requisite legislation has been passed by the Parliament and made law. Mr. Roger Ver is a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda by way of the Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) and has already demonstrated his commitment to Antigua and Barbuda by moving his wife, a Japanese citizen by birth, and child to Antigua, where he intends to maximize the use of the legislation in order to begin building Antigua and Barbuda’s market presence in this new drive to strengthen another sector in the Antigua and Barbuda economy.

Mr. Ver’s bitcoin sales to investors outside of Antigua have already made him a leader in the industry with considerable wealth. Millions of dollars have already been transferred to a local bank which he will utilize to strengthen his presence here. The Cabinet has given consideration to nominating Mr. Roger Ver to serve as Antigua and Barbuda’s non-resident envoy to Japan in order to build stronger links between Japan and Antigua and Barbuda

Notes from Cabinet (Pt4)

The Cabinet invited the National Parks Authority (NPA) and the Permanent Secretary in the Tourism Ministry to address its members on a development planned for Falmouth Harbour. In the week prior, the developer came before the Cabinet to seek the body’s support for a project valued at $50 million dollars. The developer indicated that he had completed two Environmental Impact Assessments in prior years but that he was being asked to provide yet another; he also indicated that he was being asked to use a line of vegetation to mark where buildings could be constructed, rather than the highwater mark as is customary.

The NPA indicated that the EIAs of which the developer spoke have not been submitted; and that there are four categories, not one, which are utilized for determining where a building can be placed along the shoreline. Because of the fragility of the shoreline in the Falmouth Harbour area where the developer plans to build, a higher standard is applied since the area is subject to flooding and his buildings would be in danger. Photographs from drones, maps and other data sources were utilized to persuade the Cabinet that the decisions taken were fair and intended to help the developer and to secure the environment. A cemetery which contains headstones and the bones of ancestors must also be safeguarded from destruction, the NPA explained. The developer is to be consulted by the Minister of Tourism and Economic Development.

Notes from Cabinet (Pt5) - 3

The Minister of Health was called upon by the Cabinet to report on the situation of Covid-19 in Antigua and Barbuda. The Minister reported that there are only 3 active cases of infection within the state. There have been a total of 92 in fected persons, 86have recovered and are free of the virus, three have died and three remain under care.

The Minister credited the healthcare professionals who have been excellent in their display of commitment, and the Antigua and Barbuda people who have not abandoned the strict rules which are enforceable under law. The vast majority wear their face masks, practice social distancing, and sanitize their hands and spaces with regularity; these practices have prevented domestic spread.

The rules governing the tourists arriving Antigua have been applied vigorously at the hotels; no infections from guests to staff have occurred since June 2020 when a few staff at one hotel disregarded the protocols.

- Two polyclinics worth many millions of dollars, contributed by the People’s Republic of China, are about to be handed over to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda as gifts. The massive structures, at Glanvilles and at Villa Blackburne Park, have been equipped with modern diagnostic machines, other equipment that will enable examination of eyes, dental procedures, and treatment of diabetes, hypertension and other diseases. They are in fact mini-hospitals, the Cabinet agreed, that will ease enormous pressures from the MSJMC. The new polyclinics will be appropriately staffed, and will serve several communities outside of the constituency in which they have been placed. A date for their opening and handover will soon be announced.

Notes from Cabinet (Pt6)

The Cabinet identified a 100 acre site not so far from Diamonds Estate, and will divide it into 50 two-acre farms for distribution to new farmers who wish to participate in the agricultural sector. The object is to increase the food security which many nations are now seeking to establish in light of the disruption in trade caused by the coronavirus and the states’ attempts to reduce its harm to domestic populations.

Already, backyard farmers have increased the yield of agricultural products, and have begun to cause others to move to bigger ambitions. The Cabinet has promised that more land, scarce water, and other help will be forthcoming from the Ministry of Agriculture as the nation seeks to provide ore food from its soil and to rely less on imports.

Notes from Cabinet (Pt7)

The Cabinet learned that there is a shortage of trained mechanics capable of fixing small engines. There is a demand for skilled repairmen to repair boat engines, lawn mowers, washing machines, dryers and other equipment that may fail because of use, and would require the expertise of repairmen capable of servicing the machines. The Youth Skills Program is therefore to be upgraded to allow for more of these technicians to emerge, ready to fill these jobs and to create economic opportunities for themselves, the Cabinet decided.

Notes from Cabinet (Pt8)

The Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda will convene next Thursday, August 27, 2020, to consider a number of bills that were not debated at its last sitting. The change to the regulations that will enable the schools to function smoothly upon their opening on September 7, 2020, are also on the agenda of items to be debated. An amendment to the Immigration and Citizenship Act will also be considered to allow for amnesty of certain immigrants because of gaps in their lawful and continuous residence, which have unfairly caused them to spend an additional seven years to qualify for citizenship.

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