Antigua and Barbuda Closes Borders to Yachts

30 March 2020 By Aileen Mack

Effective March 28, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. EST, the government of Antigua and Barbuda announced that all inbound pleasure crafts, including motor and sailing yachts, along with passenger vessels and ferries, “will be denied entry into Antigua and Barbuda for a period of 14 days in the first instance.” This action was in response to the significant increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 and in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus into and within their borders.

The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda declared a State of Emergency (SOE) on March 27. During this State of Emergency, all cruise permits previously issued to visiting yachts are “now restricted only to the coastal waters of Antigua and shall cease to apply to coastal waters of Barbuda,” the announcement says.

As of April 8, the 24-hour curfew has been extended until 6 a.m. on Thursday, April 16. There will be no movement during the day by non-essential workers except for food and emergency supplies, the government announced. Private vehicles are limited to two occupants. Essential businesses, such as supermarkets, petrol stations, and petrol stations, will be allowed to operate between 7 a.m. and noon each day.

The government has also made it mandatory for individuals to wear masks once they leave their homes/places of residence. Regulations state: "No person is permitted to be in any motor vehicle, supermarket, market or in any street or in any public place without wearing a mask."

All non-essential services and businesses are to close during this period. The Antigua and Barbuda Marine Association sought clarification on Seaport Workers under essential businesses permitted to operate during the SOE, and confirm that it does include marinas, and marine and yachting services.

Also, during curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., all vessels and tenders are to be confined to an established mooring position. The police and defense forces will patrol the streets to ensure compliance within the curfew hours.

It is stated that these restrictions for maritime traffic “shall not restrict vessels engaged in innocent passage and/or transit passage, within the territorial seas and/or archipelagic waters of Antigua and Barbuda, under the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”

Vessels are allowed to change their anchorage or berths during the curfew on a case by case basis, ABMA shares. Each vessel that has to move will have to provide Coast Guards with: the present location, next berth or anchorage, transit route, and time expected to get underway and ETA at destination. Only upon receiving the Coast Guard’s authorization can a vessel then move. A request can be made through the VHF by hailing the Coast Guard on Ch 16 or telephone numbers 268 462 3206/2841/2843 and 268 462 067.

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