THE LATEST NOTES FROM CABINETThursday 2nd July 2020
Notes from Cabinet (Pt1)
The Cabinet examined the conditions under which visitors and nationals returning home can enter into Antigua and Barbuda. The situation continues to be fluid, requiring nimble and responsive changes in policy after weighing all the circumstances. The new policy does not require that everyone be tested upon arrival at the V.C. Bird International Airport. Instead, everyone who boards a flight heading to Antigua is required to have undertaken a Covid-19 antigen test, administered within seven days of their departure. Consultations with all the pertinent partners have been undertaken, and the new policy reverses somewhat the announced policy of a week ago.
1.i. Despite the requirement of the presentation of the certificate upon disembarking, those whose temperatures show that they have a fever, will nevertheless be subjected to testing. Either a Sofia2 Rapid Test or a PCR Test will be administered to those showing abnormal temperatures. Arrangements are underway at the V.C. Bird International Airport Arrivals Area to construct more health kiosks so that the process of examination can be quicker and more efficient. Antigua and Barbuda opened its borders exactly one month ago, on June 1, 2020; and, received its first international flight on June 4, 2020.
1.ii. The Minister of Health informed the Cabinet that the Commonwealth Coronavirus Covid-19 Tracker has determined that Antigua and Barbuda is among two of 54 Commonwealth countries that can be deemed fully prepared to address the crisis. The island-nation scored a 5 out of 5 on the Commonwealth Tracker scale; Canada was the only other Commonwealth country to score a perfect score.
1.iii. The Minister of Health also informed that 120 persons are in quarantine. That number includes the returning students studying in Cuba; the 39 Antigua and Barbuda nationals who arrived from the Dominican Republic last Friday; and a smattering of returning nationals who have arrived from the USA. These 120 persons will be released from quarantine after spending 14 days and having exhibited no symptoms. Testing may be carried out, depending on the continued health status. The cost to be borne by the Government is in the region of US$130.00 daily.
Notes from Cabinet (Pt2)
The Cabinet held a fulsome discussion on the future of LIAT 1974 Ltd. Antigua and Barbuda is developing a plan for a new LIAT, which includes an invitation to private entities to invest in that new carrier. In keeping with the requirements set out by the shareholder governments, that plan is to be developed in the shortest possible time and to be ready in a few days. The Antigua and Barbuda Government is committed to investing an amount of US$15,000,000 to US$20,000,000 towards the new LIAT. The conditions of the loan secured prior to the Covid-19 crisis requires that the borrowed resources be invested in LIAT. A decision was taken to have the Registrar of Companies in Antigua and Barbuda, acting under the Companies Act, to reserve the LIAT 2020 Ltd. new company name. Antigua and Barbuda stands opposed to the liquidation of LIAT 1974 Ltd. without a plan to create the necessary connectivity which regional integration requires. Staff members of LIAT, numbering 800+ throughout the region, and more than 500+ in Antigua are very worried about their future, the Cabinet agreed. The cost and distribution of severance among the shareholders will be assessed, the Cabinet informed.
Notes from Cabinet ( Pt3)
The Chairman of the PWA, the Vice Chairman, and the Treasurer of the PWA were also invited to Cabinet. The invitation was extended to the PWA by letter of June 23, 2020, and again when the trio met with the Prime Minister on Monday, June 29, 2020.
4.i. Each of the agreed-to issues, raised by the PWA publicly and with the Prime Minister, was re-examined once more before the Cabinet, and the PWA leadership was given the assurances which they required.
a) The repair work on the Police Headquarters building on American Road has already begun. b) The Parham Police Station will be repaired or demolished, and temporary quarters will be rented in Parham to house the station. c) The bid to have Representation of the PWA on the Promotions Board was not agreed-to by the PSC when mentioned; consultations will take place between the PSC and the PWA. d) The retirement at age 60 of senior police officers met with some approval, on the basis that refreshed leadership is always required, and the vigour required by those who have gone past 60 may not be present. e) The provision of building supplies came from the Police nearly two years ago; a stipend would be paid to those officers who contributed their time and talent. f) A CBH team will visit every station to sanitize the buildings and will provide supplies in this Covid-19 crisis.
4.ii. The protest action by the PWA ended on Tuesday afternoon, June 30, 2020, and the officers are back out to work.
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