Head of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit, Ronald Chapman, has given the assurance that several protocols had been implemented to ensure that the January 19 General Elections are conducted safely. He was speaking during a press conference earlier today.
Mr. Chapman indicated that the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit and the Electoral and Boundaries Commission would be implementing protocols similar to those utilised during the 2020 St. George North by-election.
“We would have seen [the protocols] work and we would’ve just tweaked them and expanded them where necessary for the national election….
“You will realise that a lot of the events and meetings will be streamed. Spot meetings are still allowed, and there are a number of restrictions in terms of the larger political events…. So, at present, the agreement basically is that there would be three large events. Parties can choose whether they want to have one at the beginning, middle and the end. At those large events, the restrictions would be 500 persons,” he added.
Mr. Chapman encouraged Barbadians to remain cautious and practise the COVID-19 protocols while on the campaign trail. “The non-pharmacological interventions … good hand hygiene, the proper wearing of [face] masks, physical distancing, and being in good ventilated areas [are what] we want to ensure that we do during this period of electioneering, nomination and polling.
“It is critical that we recognise that although this is the time we usually call ‘the silly season’, we must act wisely,” the public health official stressed.
Chief Medical Officer, The Most Honourable, Dr. Kenneth George, also addressed the holding of general elections at this time. He indicated that authorities would also be following the guidelines set out by the Commonwealth and the World Health Organization.
Noting that they have observed the elections held recently by fellow CARICOM countries, he stated: “We have looked at those guidelines, which I believe, will ensure that the public remains safe. However, based on the trajectory of COVID-19, the normal functions of government must continue….
“I am happy that those protocols address the following areas: the pre-election process with respect to mass gatherings and pop-up meetings; the nomination process; the election day process; the counting of ballots and all of those behind the scenes operations. [We have taken these into account] while we came up with the protocols,” the Chief Medical Officer added.