Antigua and Barbuda will welcome its first international flight next month since the island shut its borders as part of the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez said that an American Airlines flight from Miami is due to land on June 4, bringing the first set of international passenger flights in 10 weeks. Virgin Atlantic confirmed it will be resuming flights there soon too.
He said it will mark the start of a slow, phased recovery for the sector and is set to be followed by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines in mid-June and British Airways in July.
Fernandez said that the island would be seeking to ensure international confidence in the country’s ability to keep people safe and that staving off a second wave of infections will prove crucial.
“Everything will be in place to ensure we don’t get a lot of negative press and beaten up on social media with people questioning whether we really are ready,” Fernandez said, noting that tourism officials had been hard at work for weeks so they can “hit the ground running”.
The authorities have not yet announced the date for the re-opening of the VC Bird International Airport, but visitors may have to undergo a COVID-19 test at least 48 hours before boarding the flight among other proposed measures.
Fernandez said health officials were confident that rapid virus tests conducted overseas will have a 90 per cent accuracy rate by the end of this month.
Hotel staff will be tested for the coronavirus before going back to work. Uniforms will be laundered and collected on-site and staff will be required to change into them on the premises before beginning a shift.
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