The Antiguan experience of COVID-19

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The Antiguan experience of COVID-19
Craige, a resident of Antigua, reports on the island's experience of the global pandemic

Prior to March 2020 there was noise about a strange occurrence of persons falling ill in China and succumbing to what was later named Covid-19. As news of this virus rapidly spread throughout the world, we started seeing the massive decline of visitors to Antigua and Barbuda. This was drastic; airlines were moving frantically to get tourists out of Antigua.

Our main industry, tourism, took the first blow with visitors and prospective visitors cancelling bookings and aborting vacation packages. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda implemented a ban on visitors from China. This ban was later extended to visitors from Italy.

Restaurants and bars were closed followed by schools, churches, and gyms. Hotels and airlines began layoffs and reduced hours of work. Carnival and related fetes and events were later cancelled.

Social distancing became the order of the day and wearing of masks in public became mandatory. Personal hygiene intensified as citizens were required to wash their hands several times a day. Curfews were implemented which caused residents to panic shop. Information on the COVID-19 virus kept changing daily. The wearing of masks changed from only persons exhibiting flu-like symptoms to mandatory donning. We were told that the virus originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China, but this later changed to the implementation of 5G network.

In the second week of April the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda stated that without a vaccine he anticipated that the country would remain on lockdown. However, a month later the Cabinet decided to move forward with reopening of the borders on 1st of June, restarting the economy with strict adherence to healthy and safety protocols.