COVID-19 update and press conference – February 18, 2021.

Businesses deemed as an essential service must provide their employees with an emergency pass issued by Government and not a letter from the employer.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall, gave this reminder today as he addressed the COVID-19 Press Conference, where he spoke about the upcoming stay-at-home weekend and gave an update on Directive No. 4, which is now in effect until midnight, February 28. 

Mr. Marshall told the media: “It has come to our attention that a number of employers have been issuing to their employees letters saying that they are working this place and it is an essential service and therefore, treat this as a pass….

“Those of you who have been using letters, the police will not be accommodating that. Please go to www.gov.bb and apply for your passes…. For those of you who have letters, …that will not be accepted, and not just on the weekend, not generally,” he stressed.

He pointed out that emergency passes were issued by Government and approved by him, as Attorney General. However, he noted that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital employs 2,300 people, so instead of issuing passes, a decision was taken that the emergency service workers would use their staff ID.  

In addition, the Attorney General said farmers could also present their IDs as proof of their farming activity. “That serves two purposes, it reduces the amount of processing that the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology would have to do as the many requests for passes come in.

“But perhaps more importantly, the Ministry of Agriculture is best poised to say who the bona fide farmers are. Therefore, the members of the Royal Barbados Police Force will be accepting farmers’ IDs, fishermen’s IDs and QEH’s IDs as evidence of their entitlement to be on the road during this current period of lockdown,” he stated. He noted that farmers without IDs should contact the Ministry of Agriculture.

When questioned if operators of public service vehicles (PSVs) should be working during the upcoming stay-at-home weekend, Mr. Marshall emphasised they were part of the essential services. He added that those in the essential services category would be working or engaging in critical activities and public transportation must be available to them.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall explained that businesses deemed as an essential service must provide their employees with an emergency pass issued by Government and not a letter from the employer. (PMO)

“Therefore, the Transport Board, the members of the TAP programme and PSVs will be allowed to operate. But bear in mind that the COVID protocols will be strictly enforced in all of those vehicles as well as in relation to their usage,” he underscored.

However, taxis, he continued, would have to apply for emergency passes and he indicated that some operators and associations were already doing so. He said visitors coming or leaving Barbados would be facilitated by the Royal Barbados Police Force and would not need a pass.

“So, we really don’t need individuals who are booked to travel out on Saturday morning inundating the system for requests for passes…. Your travel documents, your plane ticket and your passport would suffice as proof of your bona fide to be on the road, in particular during the stay-at-home,” he explained.

In relation to caregivers passes, he said persons may apply to www.gov.bb. But he noted that the requests were sent to the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs for Minister Cynthia Forde and her team to deal with.

“Some individuals have requested as many as eight and nine caregiver passes for a single elderly relative. So, all kinds of people are asking for caregiver passes for just one individual; so, they have to track that.

“Then of course there are some individuals who have nobody to care for but who try to beat the system and apply and say, well I am a caregiver. So, to the extent possible and reasonable, we still have to engage in some kind of vetting exercise…,” he explained.

The Attorney General warned that if he received any reports that passes were being abused, they would be revoked. He reminded that all persons going on the road during the stay-at-home weekend must have a pass.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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