Barbados will move into phase two of its exit strategy of the lockdown enforced to manage the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic from Monday, May 4.
And, while that will see a number of private and public sector entities that were closed over recent weeks reopening, it will also see a number of new operational protocols being implemented.
These were among measures outlined by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley during a two-hour long address to the nation on matters of national importance on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation last night.
Among them were protocols for how persons should travel to and from work; protocols for employers and employees; the wearing of masks by the general public; sanitation concerns and the continued protection of the vulnerable in society.
“Wherever possible, workers should travel to their workplace alone, using their transport. Many, who will travel on public transport, will know that buses will be limited to 60 per cent capacity now to provide sufficient space, and only one person at a time can sit in a row, on a row of chairs,” the Prime Minister outlined.
Employers and employees will also have to follow a number of new protocols when they return to the office next week to ensure their safety, and reduce exposure to COVID-19.
These protocols for employees and employers include:
- No non-essential visitors should be allowed at workplaces.
- All persons entering worksites should have their temperature taken twice daily by a dedicated nurse assigned to carry out this duty for large workplaces, like construction sites and supermarkets, with their consent.
- Workers should wash and clean their hands before entering and leaving their workplaces, and frequently while at work.
- Employers will be required to allow preferably six feet of space between people waiting to enter work sites.
- Employers must ensure that common contact surfaces, such as trolleys and countertops in supermarkets, are cleaned regularly.
- Employers must provide additional hand washing facilities to what they normally have for their staff. This will be insisted on for larger sites because of the significant numbers of personnel. They must also ensure that soap and freshwater are readily available, and kept topped up at all times.
- Employers should also seek where possible to increase ventilation in enclosed spaces, and they should regularly clean the inside of work vehicles and between use by different operators who may be using the vehicles.
- Only necessary meeting participants should attend indoor meetings once again.
- Employees will be required to remain onsite and avoid going to local shops for break or lunch. The use of the canteen and other eating arrangements should always be staggered to reduce congestion and contact. Workers should sit six feet apart from each other while eating, and avoid all contact.
- Employees are urged, where possible, to bring their meals and refillable drinking bottles from home.
- Employees living with someone in self isolation, or a vulnerable person, should not come to work for now.
“Now remember this is not going to be forever. So, when we ask you to do these things, especially as we open back up, I beg you please do them,” the Prime Minister urged.
She further advised that payments should be as contactless as possible, with money being placed in a container and passed to the person receiving the cash.
Meanwhile, Ms. Mottley cautioned employers to avoid close working conditions wherever possible.
“Non-essential physical work that requires close contact between workers should not be carried out. Work requiring human contact should not be carried out at this stage,” she stressed.
At the same time, the Prime Minister underscored the need for all parties, except for those in the healthcare sector, to wear disposable or cloth face masks, when in public.
“I know that many of you have started, we have not yet made it mandatory, but we are considering doing so. And at this point in time, until such time, we’re asking all of you to wear the mask,” Ms. Mottley advised.
During her address to the nation, Ms. Mottley also noted that rubbish collection and storage points should be increased and emptied regularly throughout, and at the end of each day.
She stressed that the protocols were necessary to ensure that there were “safe people, doing safe things, and for vulnerable people at home, who need to be protected”.
“Beyond these protocols, my friends, we must phase our approach to limit bunching and congestion and potential sources at risk,” she stated.