1. i. The Cabinet held discussions on Covid-19 and invited the Chief Medical Officer, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer and the Senior Officer in the Central Board of Health to its weekly meeting. The Minister of Health reported that in the last week, only thirteen cases of Covid infection were reported, and there are no Covid-19 patients hospitalized in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Cabinet was of the view that because as many as 62% of the eligible Antigua and Barbuda population has been vaccinated, the virus and its current Omicron variant are having a diminishing impact on sickness and on death. The Cabinet, therefore, continues to encourage all eligible men and women to get vaccinated; it is of the view that the 70% rate that is aimed at can be achieved by June 1 2022.

ii. The Cabinet has also agreed that the regulations governing the wearing of face masks are to be repealed, making the wearing of masks optional effective Wednesday 16 March 2022. The CMO and her team propose that face masks be worn by workers indoors (office, stores, supermarkets, financial institutions, churches, civic groups, schools, bars, clubs) where workers come into contact with many strangers. In outdoor places also, where there is likely to be crowds of people, the wearing of a face mask is dutifully encouraged.

iii. All schools shall return to full face-to-face classes commencing Monday 14 March 2022 and face masks are not required of the students. However, face masks ought to be worn by the security personnel, the administrators and those who will likely have contact with a large number of students and other personnel. These workers are encouraged to wear face masks. Sanitizing and temperature checks are continued requirements. Social distancing cannot be achieved with full face-to-face learning.

iv. Buses, taxis and other forms of public transportation can return to full capacity, but drivers and conductors are encouraged to wear masks. Sanitizing is still required.

v. Effective Wednesday 16 March 2022, nationals and residents of Antigua and Barbuda returning to Antigua do not require vaccinations; however, they require a Covid test (PCR or approved Rapid Antigen) no more than four days old and a quarantine period in their own homes of 10 to 14 days.

Further, nationals and residents who are vaccinated do not require a Covid test to enter Antigua (unless they show symptoms of possible infection). More than 40,000 vaccination ID cards have been issued thus far, such that the nationals and residents can readily prove their vaccination status.

vi. Cabinet spent considerable time discussing and agreeing on the rules governing fetes. More than eight groups have already received provisional permission to undertake fetes beginning as early as next month and throughout Carnival. No fete shall have any more than 5,000 patrons, and each patron is required to demonstrate that he or she has been fully vaccinated and tested for Covid within three to four days of the fete.

vii. The Minister responsible for the Creative Industries brought to Cabinet a provisional plan to hold the mass-crowd events associated with Carnival; these would include T-shirt Mas, J’ouvert and Parade of Troupes. The Cabinet will determine next Wednesday whether or not the plan presented is to be utilized, modified or completely altered following further consultations. The primary objective of the Creative Industries Ministry is to prevent clustering and the possibility of a super-spreader event during the celebrations.