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Gradual restart after lockdown

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Gradual restart after lockdown
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley (GP)

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As was done coming out of last year’s national lockdown, there will be a gradual reopening of businesses and offering of services in Barbados, starting on Monday March 1, 2021.

The phased restart to life as we know it under COVID-19 was announced by Prime Minister Mia Mottley during an hour-long national address on Thursday night. She also provided an update on Barbados’ vaccine situation and outlined some of the discussion held at the recently concluded inter-sessional meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government.

Barbados has been on a national pause to fight the spread of COVID-19 since February 3 and it is scheduled to terminate on February 28. Attorney General Dale Marshall is slated to provide the specific details on the way forward in the next Directive on Saturday.

“The science and efforts of all recognise that sharp shutdown, but gradual reopening, and that is the approach that we have been advised to take and it is the one that we shall take,” Mottley said.

Among the relaxing of the rules include:

  • Beach access from 6 to 9 a.m., and now from 3 to 6 p.m. each day, but no use of pleasure craft at this stage.
  • Outdoor commercial activity will be encouraged wherever practical.
  • Construction, agriculture, farming, fishing, automotive shops – will be allowed to resume their work activity.
  • Also, hardware, appliance, plumbing, electronic, telephony stores, etc. can open.
  • Markets will reopen and vending can resume.
  • Curbside pick-ups, delivery and drive-thrus can operate for fast food restaurants.
  • There should be no selling of food on the shoulder of a highway.
  • Government entities like the post office, law courts, registry and land registry will reopen.
  • Administrative offices can reopen with minimum staff.
  • Those who can function effectively at home should continue to do so.
  • Those who work in the public service will be guided by permanent secretaries.
  • There can be use of pools in hotels and public areas under the supervision of management.
  • Supermarkets will open on Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but not on Sundays.
  • Curfew remains from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Gas stations will be open on Sundays, but not the automarts.
  • From Monday to Saturday, the minimarts at gas stations will be open.
  • Massage parlours, gyms – indoor/outdoor sports will remain closed.
  • Hairdressers, boutiques and barbers remain closed for now.
  • Partying is a bad idea; silly and selfish.
  • The protocols remain for churches/funerals/weddings.

Mottley asked people to exercise restraint as the reopening continues so we can “build forward better”, adding “we are not yet where we want to be, but we can’t keep commerce closed in this country”.

The Prime Minister also issued a special caution to those who like to party.

“Partying didn’t start in 2020 and trust me, it is not going to end in 2021. There is going to be new and old music in 2022, 2032 and 2042,” she said.

“Let us understand that there is no rush for people to be partying now. March 2021 cannot – I want to repeat myself – cannot be a time for partying, and let us take control of ourselves therefore. COVID loves parties more than you.”

She said partying of any kind at this time is a bad idea; it is silly and selfish. This also applies to birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions, including funerals.

The Prime Minister said the effects of the national pause and Stay At Home Weekend, as well as the continued restrictions, should reduce the number of COVID infections, but if there is no change in behaviour, she will not hesitate to apply the brakes again.  (SAT)