Barbados will be under a 24-hour curfew from 6:00 p.m. on Friday, April 3.
This comes as Government tightens regulations to control the spread of COVID-19, after the island recorded a new case, bringing the total number of cases to 46.
Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw made the announcement today during a press conference, where she outlined that supermarkets, mini marts, restaurants, government offices, departments and statutory corporations will be closed.
“Unless there is legitimate business, which will require you to leave your home, and to be on the road, you can only be on the road to go to the pharmacy to seek medical assistance, or if you are part of the essential services, or if you are doing business with any of the businesses, which are exempted under this Order.
“Therefore, as tomorrow, Friday, April 3, all supermarkets and mini marts shall remain closed, until further notice,” she stated.
Ms. Bradshaw explained that observations continued to show that there were large groups of persons congregating across the island despite the persistent warnings of the dangers of doing so, especially outside of supermarkets.
She said this was also flagged as a concern by supermarket, gas station and bakery owners during a meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee, with respect to COVID-19, this morning.
Ms. Bradshaw added that after discussions with the Chief Medical Officer and Minister of Health and Wellness, it was thought that a further delay of the closure of supermarkets and mini marts would have “deleterious effects on the well being of our citizens”.
She noted that discussions with supermarket owners were ongoing to explore the possibility of establishing e-commerce platforms, and a staggering of allowing persons across the country to be able to access these services, especially the most vulnerable, to allow them to be able to fulfil specific grocery orders.
“There are thousands who buy their groceries every day from what in Barbados we consider as village shops. And I want the public to appreciate that we have not placed the restriction on the village shops because we understand and appreciate that some persons will normally visit village shops in order to get basic groceries,” the Acting Prime Minister pointed out.
However, even under such conditions, Ms. Bradshaw said the new Order stipulated that the shops should have no more than three persons congregating at a time, and reiterated that alcohol was not to be sold.
She stated that automarts at gas stations will only be opened for the sale of top ups, and the gas stations will remain open for essential service providers, who will have to move around the country.
The Acting Prime Minister further noted that the sale of bread from bakeries and bread depots will also remain in place to allow persons to purchase bread.
She also reiterated that government departments will remain closed, unless otherwise specified by the Head of the Civil Service, who will send out a memorandum to all ministries, indicating who will be required to come to work. That, she added, would be further clarified with the Permanent Secretaries of the respective government departments.
“I want to give the country the assurance that this Government will continue to monitor the situation …. This is a very fluid situation, and we continue to be in discussions with our stakeholders. There will be further COVID-19 directives over the course of the next few days and certainly during this period, as we continue as a Government to work with stakeholders to monitor the situation, and to do right by the people of Barbados,” Ms. Bradshaw stated.