Barbados and other CARICOM countries are doing “a phenomenal job” in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Member States were given the thumbs up by Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, as he gave an update to the Barbados Government Information Service today at his Culloden Road office.
He said: “… Because we’ve controlled the pandemic, we’ve been able to re-open our borders and we’ve been able, at a CARICOM level, to put together this travel bubble, that allows a number of CARICOM countries that are considered to be low risk, that we can travel among those countries without requiring a COVID-19 test, [and] without requiring periods of quarantine.”
Ambassador Comissiong pointed out that tackling COVID-19 was critical because it would serve as a boost to restarting the tourism industry.
Other key economic measures he noted included implementing the Barbados Employment and Sustainable Transformation programme (BEST), with Government investing 300 million dollars in the tourism sector; the Barbados Welcome Stamp initiative; and the creative economy engagement programme that was introduced to get entertainers and creative artistes employed once again.
He noted: “… Very early on we recognised something that a lot of big countries in this world seem not to have recognised yet, and it is that you cannot engage in economic activity in this period unless you first control the COVID-19 pandemic. So, everything is based upon that fundamental project of controlling this pandemic, thus making it possible to re-open economic activity [and] re-opening your borders to trade and travel and so forth,” he stressed.
The envoy also noted that CARICOM member states collaborated through such agencies as the Caribbean Public Health Association, the Pan American Health Organization, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the Regional Security System, and the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security.
He said the regional approach included having regional protocols and mechanisms for securing medical supplies and Personal Protective Equipment to deal with COVID-19, with Barbados acting as the regional hub for distribution.
Ambassador Comissiong added that the strategy for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy was very similar to the national strategy, with the promotion of the circulation of resources leading to more efficiency, better utilisation of resources, and greater economic synergies.