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Antigua & Barbuda – New policy will require vaccination or testing of all public sector workers

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By Orville Williams

Starting October 1, all public sector employees – not just those on the frontlines – will be required to be vaccinated or to produce a twice-monthly Covid-19 test, in order to be allowed into government offices.

The change in policy was announced yesterday and is a drastic shift from what has been in place for the past few months, where only frontline public sector workers were subject to it, on account of their frequent and, in some cases, close engagement with visitors to the island.

There has been a sharp rise in Covid infections over the past couple of weeks, however, and there have also been instances where government offices have had to temporarily suspend operations due to positive cases.

Information Minister Melford Nicholas told yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing that the primary reason for the policy change was to increase protection against the virus.

“Prior to this period, we had really focused on frontline workers, [but] given the fact that we have seen multiplication of persons with vaccinations across the board, we have taken the position that as of October 1st, the policy will become applicable to all public sector workers in all of the agencies and all of the formats of the government, to include the statutory bodies as well,” Nicholas said.

“The reason why we have gone to the first of October is that we will give permanent secretaries and other senior public officials sufficient time to put regimes in place.”

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