As cases of COVID-19 in Barbados reached 24 today, a decision has been taken to convene Parliament tomorrow to amend the Emergency Management Act. This will allow for the declaration of a public health emergency.
As a result, a curfew will be in place from Saturday, March 28, until Tuesday, April 14, from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for all residents, except those who are part of the essential services.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, in an address to the nation tonight, stated: “To be absolutely clear, the first day when 24-hour movement will be allowed for all persons again, unless further extended, will be Wednesday, the 15th of April.”
The Prime Minister identified the essential services as including the uniformed organizations of Barbados; security organizations; the Royal Barbados Police Force; the Fire Service; the Barbados Prison Service; Immigration; Customs officers; the medical and paramedical professions; caregivers; hospital providers; utility companies; telecommunications; media and broadcasting services; the provision of essential transport; the collection, storage, purification and distribution of water; the collection, storage, treatment and disposal of sewage and garbage; and the removal of persons who have passed away.
There will also be a number of services which will be allowed to operate during the course of the day, within the time frame of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the hours would differ, she disclosed.
After the amendment passes in Parliament tomorrow, details of these will come in an announcement by Attorney General Dale Marshall, who will be joined by the Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, the COVID-19 Czar, Richard Carter, and the Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anton Best.
The Prime Minister outlined that businesses which will not be impacted by the new restrictions include grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants for take-away or drive-through only, shops, commercial bakeries, butcher shops, abattoirs, and gas stations, along with fishermen and farmers.
Some government workers will be working from home, Ms. Mottley said, but she gave the assurance that “critical ministries”, which will be identified, will remain open to service the public between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
She, however, cautioned: “While there will therefore be some activity remaining between 6:00 in the morning and 8:00 at night, we are appealing to all Barbadians to please minimize the number of times you need to go outside. Persons have done well, thus far. We can continue to do well if we hold each other’s back up at this very critical time.”
She made it clear that the country had enough food supplies and the grocery stores will remain open, therefore there was no need for “any mad rush” as the result of the imposition of the restricted hours for movement.