COVID-19 update – September 22, 2022. (PMO)

Effective today, Friday, September 23, the wearing of face masks as the best defence against COVID-19 is now optional, but with a few exceptions.

Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw in a post Cabinet press conference at Ilaro Court on Thursday evening, said the changes took effect from midnight. However, the wearing of masks would be mandatory on public transportation, in schools, medical facilities such as hospitals, dental offices, clinics, nursing homes and daycare institutions.

She also revealed that from today, all entry requirements at this country’s ports of entry would be relaxed for vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers. 

“Conscious of the direction in which the rest of the world is going, effective tomorrow (today), we will also discontinue all COVID-19-related travel protocols for Barbados, joining 95 per cent of the countries in the hemisphere who preceded Barbados in going in this direction. This means that there will be no testing requirements for entering Barbados whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated,” Ms. Bradshaw proffered.

The Acting Prime Minister also warned that the elderly population and those considered high-risk, should still wear their masks to protect themselves.

She stated: “Individuals who are at increased risk for illness or death due to COVID-19, particularly the elderly and those with health conditions, may find it prudent to continue wearing masks around others.”

She added: “Those who come in close contact with such vulnerable persons are also encouraged to wear masks and practise good hand and respiratory hygiene.  I also encourage you to make use of the available COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters that provide another layer of protection against the virus.”

Ms. Bradshaw also revealed that Barbados’ positivity rate continued to fall and now stood at “a reasonable 12 per cent” which is down from the “worrying” 26 per cent which existed over a month ago.

The Acting PM, who is also the substantive Minister of Transport and Water Resources, commended Barbadians for staying the course over the past 18 months especially during those periods when the country faced a significant spike in the viral illness.

“Despite all that we have been through, we did not retreat…We did not surrender.  Yes, we may all be battered and bruised and lost many friends, family and loved ones along the way.  I know that we are all a little, or a lot, COVID-19 fatigued. But we are now at that point where we can strive to turn the corner at this latest phase in our management of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms. Bradshaw underlined.

The Acting Prime Minister encouraged Barbadians not to drop their guard adding that the COVID-19 has not been eradicated from our island and that the onus was on each individual to behave responsibly.

Attorney General Dale Marshall who was also present, stated that the COVID-19 directive remains in place while Minister of Tourism and International Transport Lisa Cummins, expressed optimism that the change would lead to renewed interest in Barbados as a destination for the upcoming winter season.

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