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Antigua: Inmates upset at axing of visits amid coronavirus fears

All prison visits have been suspended for two weeks as of Monday, amid efforts to stem the coronavirus spread in Antigua.

The announcement came shortly after a meeting of top public safety officials, including Minister of Public Safety, Steadroy Benjamin, Commissioner of PoliceAtl, ee Rodney, and Superintendent of Prisons, Lieutenant-Colonel Eugene Philip.

The practice of family members delivering daily meals to prisoners has also been put on hold. Neither will inmate work groups be allowed outside the prison’s confines, except those who work on its farm.

The aim, according to Benjamin, is to “have proper control of every activity in Her Majesty’s Prison”.

He said a review will be conducted at the end of the two weeks to decide whether or not the special measures need to be extended.

Additionally, Benjamin told Observer, the Chief Magistrate will visit the prison each week to deal with matters relating to inmates on remand.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Prison Visiting Committee, Bishop Charlesworth Browne, was tasked with delivering the news to the inmates and their families on Monday.

He said he told the prison population he was satisfied that the decisions made on Monday were in their “best interest”.

Bishop Browne told Observer that even though he tried his best to convey that the steps being taken were to protect inmates from the potential spread of the virus, many of the prisoners were upset.

He said that delivering the news of the temporary measures was one of his most challenging duties to date, as the prisoners asked pertinent questions which could not be brushed aside.

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