HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday December 08, 2021
The Cabinet members undertook to receive their booster shots beginning at about 9:30 am; as a consequence, Cabinet was delayed for approximately two hours.
Consequently, each Cabinet member has taken a third shot; and, the Antiguan and Barbudan Public will be invited in ten days or more to acquire the booster shot.
The experts advise that a booster shot is necessary to strengthen the immune system against the ravages of Covid-19.
- Cabinet invited the promoters of fetes to address members on issues raised concerning vaccination and testing for Covid-19, since the announcement made two weeks ago that fetes could be held under specified conditions. Three promoters shared with Cabinet their conclusions held with other promoters.
- They opined that 300 paying patrons attending a fete will not be profitable and have suggested that a larger maximum would be profitable. The Minister of Cultural Industries proposed a compromise number and that is to be discussed with Health professionals and other stakeholders before Cabinet agrees on a final number.
- The promoters proposed that the entire cost of testing be absorbed by government, despite being given all testing kits at no cost. Employing their own health professionals at a cost of $100 each event was deemed too burdensome.
iii. The promoters argued that in many places, including bars and outdoor entertainment venues, patrons usually exceed the 300-personlimit which the Cabinet was imposing on the fetes. They argued that fete organizers were restricted to allowing only fully vaccinated persons plus patrons who tested negative within 24 hours prior to, or on the night of, the event, to enter the fete. Yet, these other unsupervised events had no proof of the vaccination status of their patrons, nor did they test the patrons before entering the bars and entertainment venues. The promoters argued that their events would not likely be a super-spreader like those others could be. The Cabinet debunked that argument, promising to ensure that those bars and venues that disobey the law would be pursued more vigorously.
- The Cabinet invited the Chairperson of the National Accreditation Board to address an issue relating to the accreditation of two newly registered medical schools in Antigua and Barbuda. Medical Schools are usually accredited by CAAM-HP (Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions); however, the on-site visits by CAM-HP assessors to the medical schools could not take place because of Covid-19 restrictions.Antigua and Barbuda established its own accreditation board, much as Grenada has done, in order to move forward the accreditation of the schools. There is an agreement to bring on board a consultant to work with the Antiguan team in order to ensure that accreditation can be quickly and thoroughly achieved.
- The Cabinet held a google meeting with an investment team in Holland joined by their lawyer in Antigua. The team is planning to spend US$300,000,000.00 in Antigua constructing a new hotel which will open in 2023 and a convention center which will be completed in the year following, or in 2024. The developers/investors anticipate creating as many as 400 jobs during the construction phase and an equal number when the new hotel and convention center are operational. One of the major principals is a CIP Citizen who has already demonstrated great faith in the Gaston Browne administration and in Antigua and Barbuda.
- The developer of the Seaforth project was invited to Cabinet in light of the discussions which he held with the Development Control Authority (DCA) and the continuing investigation by that authorizing body. The DCA requested an application from the developer, called a “G-Application”, which allows work to commence while final plans are being completed and assessed by the DCA. The Department of the Environment plays a critical role in assessing both the G-Application and most certainly the final submissions. When there is satisfaction by the parties, a town-hall meeting is to be scheduled by law to which the public is to be invited so that there will be complete transparency. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is also to be submitted and assessed by the Environmental Division.
- On Wednesday 15 December 2021, the Cabinet will convene for the very last time in 2021. The decision to ratify the lifting—or a possible extension—of the State of Emergency and the accompanying Curfew will be announced thefollowing day when the Parliament will convene.
- The Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus is being studied closely; should it prove more lethal than the Delta variant, then enforcement of restrictions may follow. The Cabinet will be guided by the science and relevant data, not guesswork.
- Everyone who has not yet been vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus is being asked to take the no-cost vaccine now. The best vaccine is the available vaccine and at least four types are currently available in plentiful stockpiles. There is presently available doses of AstraZenica, SputnikV, Pfizer, and Sinopharm.