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CTUSAB doesn’t support extending lockdown

CTUSAB doesn’t support extending lockdown
Bridgetown was a virtual ghost town last Saturday. (Picture by Reco Moore)

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The Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) does not support the idea of extending the current lockdown nor does it believe it will curb community spread.

Instead, the umbrella body is calling on the Government of Barbados to reopen the country on Thursday and place greater emphasis on monitoring and compliance of the COVID-19 protocols.

The full statement follows:

“The suggestion made by the Hon. Lieutenant Col. Jeffrey Bostic, Minister of Health and Wellness, that an extension to the current two-week National Pause, scheduled to end Wednesday, 17 February, 2021, may be considered by the Government, cannot be whole-heartedly embraced by the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) at this time.

To date, the Congress has been understanding and supportive of the strategies identified and actions employed by the Government, as part of the aggressive response undertaken to combat the impact and spread of the Corona Virus in the country; which included a period of lockdown in the year 2020 and that of the current National Pause.

With the declaration by the Ministry of Health and Wellness that there is community spread of the virus, the Congress remains skeptical that a continued shut down of the country will in fact curb the incidence of community spread.

Based on the premise that the virus will potentially linger around for some time to come, the Congress is acutely aware of the delicate balance required on the part of Government, to protect the health and wellness of its citizens and the well-being of the island’s economy. CTUSAB is weary that a prolonged period of unemployment could have a devastating impact on the economy and society. It remains conscious of the implications this holds for the operations of business enterprises, the looming possibility of imminent closures that will directly contribute to the exacerbation of the unemployment situation. Further, the Congress questions the capacity of the Government to meet the demands made for financial support by business enterprises, and by workers in varying sectors who have been displaced from work.

The Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados in recommending the reopening of the country to business, urges Government in so doing, to ensure that there is increased functionality in the conducting of Covid-19 testing and the provision of results. Additionally, Government is required to ensure that there is greater monitoring of and compliance with the COVID-19 Protocols; all in its effort to reduce the incidence of the spread of the virus.

In putting forward its point of view, the Congress remains unaware of existing local data that supports the role of the restaurant and food industry, supermarket, retail, wholesale and manufacturing sectors in the community spread of the virus. The recent reduction of shopping hours at supermarkets with its attendant resumption of long lines of customers, seems puzzling in the absence of any such data.

Now that the Government has secured 100 000 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine and has commenced its national immunization programme, the Congress urges that it secures additional vaccines in short order. Whereas, there is no known number of vaccinated persons that is required for herd immunity against Covid-19, the Government must spare no effort in its quest for this goal.

In support of the national effort, CTUSAB joins with Dr Joy St John, Executive Director of CARPHA in encouraging the private sector of Barbados to contribute towards the COVID-19 testing programme.” (PR/SAT)