Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley’s address to the nation – January 26, 2021. (PMO)

Government is implementing a “national pause” across Barbados from Wednesday, February 3, as it seeks to save lives against COVID-19.

This will see the country facing extended and longer curfew hours, essential services exemptions, and advanced restrictions, as there is community spread and the UK variant of the virus present on the island.

Speaking during an address to the nation last night from Ilaro Court, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said from February 3 to 17, Barbados would be under curfew from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

“Other than those who have to be on the road, and who have the requisite passes, those who are not, I don’t need to tell you that you will be subject to some kind of penalty if you break curfew.

“You can go out on the step in your yard; you can walk around in your backyard. You can do all of that, but try to stay in your perimeter between seven at night, and six in the morning, and generally for sure where possible during the day,” the Prime Minister pleaded.

She also announced that the new measures would affect the construction sector.

“Most construction projects in the public sector will stop. We will continue on Highway One, because we have a lot of empty holes, deep trenches that are collecting water and that equally can be a threat to the community and the society,” she said.

However, she outlined that essential services, such as the National Petroleum Corporation, the Barbados Light and Power, the Barbados Water Authority, and manufacturing entities, along with those in the protective services will remain operational during the period of “reset”.

“All of these are essential, but everything else that is not essential, we need to pause. To all other persons, let us stan’ home,” she urged, while announcing that public sector workers would work remotely during the 15-day “national pause”, which runs from February 3 to 17.

In addition, she also urged private sector entities to accommodate staff working from home, where possible.

“Where the business’ social and commercial activity requires persons coming into stores or retail outlets, the Ministry of Health [and Wellness] has been very, very clear that only supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, but not the convenience stores of gas stations, just the gasoline, diesel and oil and car related stuff should remain open, as we go forward,” Ms. Mottley outlined.

Community shops, markets, bars, restaurants, and gyms will be closed during this period, while there will also be a cessation of vending.

Ms. Mottley added that all other activities, other than those that would be exempted as essential activities in the public or private sector, would not continue.

“I know it is not going to be convenient for many, but…we are asking for those things to close down…, not to spite anybody, but to give this nation the best chance at seeking to defeat COVID,” Ms. Mottley said, noting that with the new variant being present, there was a greater responsibility on everyone to manage the risk.

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