Barbados ease COVID-19 restrictions

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley

The Barbados government Thursday night announced a further ease in the coronavirus (COVD-19) restrictions resulting in a further relaxation of the curfew time, a resumption of communion and baptism services, and other activities.

The relaxation of the restrictions was announced by Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Thursday. She said these relaxations of measures will be for a three-week period, starting on Tuesday, April 27, and ending on Monday, May 17.

Starting next Tuesday, the curfew from Thursday to Sunday will run from midnight to 5:00 am (local time), while again, there will be no curfew on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.

Mottley said that cinemas will reopen, subject to stringent protocols from the Chief Medical Officer and the COVID Monitoring Unit.  Among the measures, she said, is the stipulation that no more than 25 persons remain in the concessionaire area at any given time, and the area will be “heavily monitored” by the Monitoring Unit.

Regarding the church, the Prime Minister shared that communion services could resume and the sacrament would be in individual servings.

“We are not yet out of the woods. So, I’m appealing to all Barbadians, we’re not putting restrictions on the beach; we’re not putting restrictions on the park. But we’re asking persons to recognise that the gains that we’ve made since the 31st of December and now, are too many, for us to put it at risk.”

Mottley also disclosed that discussions would be held with officials in the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Barbados Christian Council to ensure that “there is no misinterpretation as to what is being permitted by the Chief Medical Officer”.

She said that baptism services will recommence and are to be held “wherever possible outdoors” and masks and face shields are to be worn by all persons, including the officiant.

Cognisant of the upcoming bank holidays – National Heroes Day and May Day, and the urge for Barbadians to “loosen up and free up”, Mottley made it clear that “there can be no picnics, no excursions, no karaoke, no fetes, no parties.

“We have asked for a larger than usual presence in terms of persons, ensuring that during the bank holidays, people remain doing what they’re supposed to do. You know, you can go to restaurants; you can go to cook shops; you can eat food; you can do shops if they’re open, but you cannot, cannot, cannot, be involved in karaoke or feting, or that kind of activity that the AG has prohibited in his drafting of the directive,” the Prime Minister explained. 

Appreciable improvements

She said based on data provided by the Minister of Health and Wellness, there had been “appreciable improvements [in the number of cases] week by week.

Additionally, the Prime Minister said the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days had dropped further. Noting that last time she spoke to the country, it was 40.7 cases per 100,000 over the 14-day period, she said it was now down to about 39, and greater effort was needed to bring the numbers further down.

“We feel, therefore, that we will continue to gradually open, recognising that those cases that we are still having, for the most part, not all, but for the most part, are linked to behaviour that the Minister of Health has indicated. And it is really unfortunate when we have persons in society who are prepared to put at risk other members of the society, other families, other members in the community.

“In this particular instance, it was a church, in circumstances where to do so, may in fact, be putting persons’ lives at risk in a serious way. So, I trust and pray that all of us have watched on and have learned and will ensure that we don’t as a nation have to deal with these difficult situations again,” she underlined.

Mottley urged Barbadians to use the two bank holidays to continue clearing their surroundings of ash from the La Soufriere volcano, which began erupting about two weeks ago.