Antigua and Barbuda on Monday joined the growing list of Caribbean destinations directly impacted by COVID-19 exposure, although the dual-island nation continues to accept visitors. The Cayman Islands, meanwhile, closed its airports to “avoid further proliferation of the coronavirus in the country,” government officials said Monday.
Popular with both land-based and cruise-ship visitors, the two destinations are the most recent Caribbean nations to implement measures intended to, in the words of Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority officials, “guard against further spread of the virus within the destination.”
Antigua and Barbuda has one confirmed case of coronavirus, said officials in a statement. “The individual is currently in self-isolation at home in Antigua and is being monitored” [while] “all identifiable contacts that this person has had, are being investigated.”
While the country continues to accept visitors, foreign nationals who have visited China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Korea and Singapore the past 28 days are banned from entering the country. Antigua & Barbuda officials have also enacted “precautionary measures” including hotel educational campaigns focused on “identifiable prevention, preparation and identification.”
A “national multi-sectoral” COVID-19 task force has been established by Antigua and Barbuda’s government to assess “all international and regional developments related to COVID-19.”
On Monday the Cayman Islands government announced the temporary closure of Owen Roberts International Airport and Charles Kirkconnell International Airport. “As a government we recognize that this difficult decision will be a disruption throughout our economy,” said Moses Kirkconnell, the Cayman Islands deputy premier and tourism minister.
“However the lives of our people in the Cayman Islands are our first and foremost concern,” he said. “We are confident that the long-term benefits of this border control measure will help us to prevent wider impact throughout our country.”
Among the most-visited Caribbean cruise destinations, the Cayman Islands’ government has also ceased accepting cruise calls for 60 days, a period that ostensibly extends beyond the CLIA member lines’ deadline for resuming operations. Officials acknowledged the measures would negatively impact visitor arrivals in the tourism-reliant nation.
“The closure of the seaport and now the airport are stringent measures, however we are a small country that operates on a very large international platform,” Kirkconnell said. “Safeguarding our people is the top priority of the Ministry of Tourism and one that I would hope the business community will understand and support,” he said.
The protocols will impact visitor arrivals in both nations as CLIA-member cruise lines have moored their Caribbean fleet and travelers from a number of nations are now unable to visit the two countries.
“We know the measures we are putting in place now are going to have an impact on our day-to-day lives and businesses,” Kirkconnell added, “but we are fully confident that the efforts we make today are to protect us all. The resilience of our dynamic tourism industry will lead the Cayman Islands to economic rebound.”
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