As you may be aware, I have been off Island, but it is important for me to say something about the situation where the unvaccinated are not allowed to travel through Antigua on their way to and from Montserrat effective as of October 1st.
First, let me say that I was elected to represent all on Montserrat, whether National or Non-National, white or black, male or female, old or young. The same goes for those who are vaccinated or unvaccinated. The Hon Premier, his Government Ministers and Parliament Secretary, all Opposition Members, as well as His Excellency the Governor and the UK Government are also expected to represent each and everyone on Montserrat.
Today, the unvaccinated may have an issue and tomorrow, it may be the vaccinated. That is why all elected Officials and His Excellency the Governor should be working together to find a solution for the thousands of Montserratians who, by choice or for health reasons (including pregnancy), are not vaccinated and are blocked from passing through Antigua by the Government of Antigua’s recent policy.
Secondly, it is the UK Government and more specifically the FCDO (Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office) that has the obligation to make sure that access is provided for all persons on Montserrat. While the Hon Premier has the responsibility to manage the day-to-day operations of access, it is the FCDO that has a binding international obligation to see that everyone on Montserrat, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, can travel into and out of Montserrat.
So, I believe that between the Hon Premier, His Excellency the Governor and the UK Government, this matter should be definitively resolved, one way or the other.
The Antiguan Government and its leaders have always been very reasonable and considerate to Montserratians. We must find a way to negotiate a path forward for all Montserratians, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, while at the same time being respectful of Antigua’s internal policies.
The solution may well be as simple as setting up an isolation room with designated staff within the Antiguan airport or something similar that is practical and safe for Montserratians who are passing through Antigua to connect to other flights. It may in fact be to the Government of Antigua’s advantage, economically and otherwise, to maintain their long standing privilege of being Montserrat’s only transit point by air and sea.
On the other hand, if Hon Premier Taylor-Farrell is forced to use St. Maarten or another neighboring island as an alternative route, he will need to work with the UK Government which not only has the obligation to find an alternative transit point, but also has the resources and the negotiation strength to make that happen swiftly.
Also, considering the recent frightening landing mishaps at our short Gerald’s Airport strip, as well as the many opportunities and possibilities St Maarten offers, the people of Montserrat, vaccinated and unvaccinated, may very well prefer the option to travel to and through St. Maarten via Winair from time to time.