The government of Antigua and Barbuda has announced a phased approach to the reopening of the country’s tourism industry as the country welcomed its first visitors to arrive since the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

A series of safety protocols are being introduced as tourism returns.

In phase one, all arriving passengers wear a mask on disembarkation and in public areas, complete a health declaration form and undergo screenings and thermal checks on arrival.

Visitors may also be tested at hotels and resorts, which must be certified by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment before reopening.

Up to four members of a family will be allowed in a single vehicle during airport transfers, while larger vehicles are limited 50% capacity, rounded down on an odd number. All vehicles will be equipped with hand sanitizer and subject to random inspections by public health officers to ensure they’re meeting sanitation requirements.

Passengers arriving by water are subject to the guidelines issued by Port Health and all Marine Pleasure Craft and Ferry Services will enter at the Nevis Street Pier.

Restaurants will be subject to enhanced cleaning protocols, with no buffets allowed and physical distancing enforced.

“The health and safety of our residents and our guests will always be our top priority,” said Charles Fernandez, minister of tourism and investment.

“Despite the severe economic strain on our economy resulting from the closure of our tourism industry, we waited until we were in a position to reassure both our citizens and our prospective guests that every precaution is being taken to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday experience.

Colin James, chief executive of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, added: “We look forward to welcoming our visitors back to Antigua and Barbuda.

“While we are excited that our borders are opening, this is still a highly unprecedented time and we realise that we are now entering a new and ever-changing landscape. Priorities in the travel industry have shifted, and our guests’ priorities are different – we have worked diligently across all sectors on the islands as well as in collaboration with our Caribbean neighbours to prepare for the new normal and to ensure a healthy and safe environment for all”.

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