The current Emergency Management (COVID-19) Directive is being revoked and a new one will be in effect from midnight, for a two-week period.

During a COVID-19 Update Press Conference this evening, Attorney General Dale Marshall explained this change was necessary as a result of the decision to modify some areas in the directive midstream because of the spike in COVID-19 positive cases.

Mr. Marshall noted that Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley had already signed off on the new directive. “Prime Minister met with the Cabinet COVID Subcommittee this morning, and we were able to refine a few of the measures that were discussed by the Prime Minister yesterday…,” he said.

The Attorney General stated that from this Sunday, churches would be limited to 25 persons and the smaller buildings would have less attendees, as six-foot distancing must be practised.

“Now, in a very small church building, a six-foot distance between each attendee at the church could well see no more than 14 or 15 people being permitted to attend service. And I want to make it clear, that is exactly what we are trying to achieve. There have been some fairly loose interpretations in the past, where people have said, well you’ve limited me to 25, so I am having 25, never mind that my building can actually only hold 10 or 15 people when you follow the six-foot distance.

“I want to make it clear that we are limiting the maximum number to 25 persons, but in those very small church buildings, those churches will actually likely have fewer people, simply because the paramount indicator is going to be the distance between the individuals,” he stressed.

Mr. Marshall disclosed that Prime Minister Mottley and Minister of Health, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic would meet with all faith-based organisations around the middle of the coming week. He said the officials would discuss in great detail the various ways in which churches could meet the minimum COVID-19 requirements to keep the members of their congregations safe, while allowing for differentiation between churches based on sizes, etcetera.

“We have already begun to get some feedback. I’m not really at liberty to go into what the structures might look like. But I want to make the point that we will be dealing with churches, not in a one size fits all approach as we have in the past, but we propose to be looking at individual churches, … to try to see, going forward, how we could come up with a normative arrangement that will satisfy the needs of the church but also the paramount needs of the country for safety in a time of COVID,” he added.

With regard to physical exercise, the Attorney General said the Prime Minister had accepted the recommendation of the COVID Subcommittee that aerobics and dancercise classes must be conducted in an outdoor setting.

“We have stipulated that gyms, dance and other exercise studios will continue to operate, but on a case by case basis they will have to operate based on specific protocols that will be published by the COVID Monitoring Unit. And we have asked the COVID Monitoring Unit to try to determine what those protocols are going to be within the next day or so.

“So that I imagine that by the start of the week, Mr. Chapman and his team will be able to say for each specific entity, whether it’s a gym or a dance studio, these are the protocols that are going to be in play,” Attorney General Marshall outlined.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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