Omicron strain forces change in arrivals policy for all visitors and returning citizens, here and in the United States

While active COVID-19 cases have dropped to only six, the Cabinet is expressing concern that the Omicron variant could soon arrive here, given the increase in arrivals for the Winter tourist season.

As a result, a decision has been made that visitors and returning nationals may no longer utilize a Rapid Antigen test to enter Antigua and Barbuda.

Therefore, beginning December 8, only negative results from a PCR test – no more than three days old – can be used to enter this country.

The Omicron strain has already been identified in the United States.   Accordingly, President Joe Biden and top government officials have considered stricter COVID-19 rules to govern international travel, which were to be detailed today, Thursday.

So far, most recent media reports say that both citizens and foreign nationals will have to take a COVID-19 test within one day of traveling into the USA, regardless of their vaccination status. 

A second test after arrival in the States and a possible period of quarantine were also under consideration.

This has prompted concern that such requirements could reduce the number of tourists coming here, since the United States is this country’s primary source market.

Meanwhile, since unvaccinated Government and private-sector workers have returned to work, as of December 1, they, too, will have to undergo a strict testing regimen.

Government Spokesperson Lionel Hurst says that up to 100 public-sector employees who returned were tested at the Villa Polyclinic.

Should the number exceed 100, however, they will have to take their COVID-19 tests on other days, since they cannot return to their workplaces until the test is completed.

“The public is reminded that all unvaccinated Government workers are required to undergo COVID-19 testing every 14 days,” Hurst says, adding that “only 100 workers can be tested per day.