The Antigua and Barbuda government says face-to-face learning of all Secondary School students, whether vaccinated or not, against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will begin on Monday.
The government also said that the state of emergency will end before December 27 this year and that the restrictions imposed on people traveling from high COVID infected countries such as the Dominican Republic, Brazil, India, and South Africa will also be lifted on January, next year.
“It was also agreed that the Ministry will conduct sessions with parents of unvaccinated students, the object being to inform of the necessity to act now and not to delay in getting their children vaccinated,” according to a statement issued following the weekly Cabinet meeting.
It said that “all students who attend classes and are still not vaccinated, will be subject to a COVID-19) test every two weeks” and that “there will be no charges for these tests”.
The statement said that Cabinet had met with the acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), the Director of Education and the Director of Pharmaceutical Services where it was agreed that the global figures within all secondary schools indicate that herd immunity has been achieved and more than 80 percent of the secondary school student population is now vaccinated.
The statement said that the CMO provided data showing that the number of new cases of COVID-19 had declined on a weekly basis.
It said the meeting also agreed that “mandates proved necessary in order to achieve herd immunity in schools, in the private sector and among public employees.
“As a consequence, the Cabinet agreed that all public sector workers, whether vaccinated or not, are to return to work on December 1. Those who are still not vaccinated by December 1, will be subject to a COVID-19 test every two weeks. There will be no charges for these tests”.
The statement said that banks and other financial institutions that have achieved community immunity of 80 percent will be permitted to have testing of their un-vaccinated employees, beginning December 1.
Private sector entities are to issue their own exemption certificates on the grounds of religion and or medical reasons. But the government sector will continue to require exemptions from acceptable medical practitioners and reputable religious institutions following submission of the appropriate application, the statement said.
It said visitors to Antigua and Barbuda and nationals who are returning and who wish to visit bars, clubs, dine-in restaurants and places of entertainment are to present the vaccination certificates that they presented on arrival in the country for them to be allowed entry.
The government said that competitive sports will resume from Monday using the previously agreed-upon protocols.