Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Browne says a “firm date has to be set” regarding the full re-opening of the island, while he as he urged citizens to get vaccinated.
The government said that as of May 31, 33,214 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccines have been administered. Prime Minister Browne told listeners to his weekend radio programme that based on the uptake in vaccinations, at least 40,000 doses can be administered by the end of June.
“At some point, we will have to open up the country’s economy, we’ll have to do away with all of the regulations, the curfew and, you know, other things that we have in place. We would have to fully open up the country at some point,” Browne said.
But he noted that if people allow themselves to “become more vulnerable” and fail to get vaccinated opening up the country later this year, would present various problems.
“…let’s say we open up the country later in the year and you’re not vaccinated, then you’re running the risk of contracting the disease and potentially getting hospitalized or you can actually die.
“Now, at that time, I don’t know anyone can fault the government because on a weekly basis for several months, we’ve been asking people to go out there and, on a daily basis for that matter, to go out there and to get vaccinated,” he told the listeners.
Browne, who in the past has hinted at the possibility of mandatory vaccination, said that “in the next couple of weeks” he will be holding further discussions and “that at some point a firm date has to be set to fully reopen the country”.
But he again warned that “reopening the country with a lot of people unvaccinated obviously will make us very vulnerable to a third wave and potentially high levels of infection. It would also undermine our economy”.
Prime Minister Browne insisted that vaccination was the only way out of the pandemic and encouraged everyone to “get vaccinated, recognizing that each vaccinated, all protected.”
Caribbean countries are in various phases of re-opening their economies as their populations get vaccinated as part of the efforts to curb the pandemic that has been blamed for thousands of deaths and infections since March last year.