Government has always taken the suggestions of church leaders on board, from the framing of initial measures for the reopening of churches on June 1, to the recently announced changes.
This was underscored by Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, as he spoke with media representatives at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, on changes to the directives and protocols for the reopening of churches.
While noting that a series of consultations from Whit Monday, June 1, to Wednesday, June 3, with the faith-based community had resulted in these adjustments, the Minister said faith leaders had expressed their thoughts on the directives and how Government could continue the process of fully reopening places of worship.
“We indicated to them that all of us have a vested interest in the full reopening of places of worship but also the full reopening of the country because a closed country is not a viable country and the role of faith in this country is important to the citizens and residents and government,” he emphasized.
Mr. Jordan further noted the leaders were aware that every directive and protocol Government had put on the table and enacted had all spoken to the matter of preserving the health of people and in the case of COVID-19, avoiding a spread of the virus that would affect people and impact the island’s healthcare system.
Revealing that the consultations included major faith groups in the country, he said these included the Barbados Christian Council, the Barbados Evangelical Association, the Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, and Muslim communities and some submissions from independent ministries.
Adding that the proposals were then submitted to the rigour of the health authorities, the Social Partnership Minister said out of these consultations Government was then able to come up with the protocols included in the first directive issued for the June 1st reopening of churches.
Media representatives also heard that the process did not stop there but there were subsequent engagements with faith leaders to hear their sentiments on the existing protocols and how Government could move forward with the issuing of new protocols.
It was also pointed out that faith leaders were reminded that the directive had a two-week time frame. The gradual approach, Mr. Jordan stressed, was part of the reason why the island was able to control the spread of COVID-19.
“We’ve started to relax restrictions over a period of time, but we have done it gradually because our primary consideration is the health and safety of our people and trying to avoid unnecessary spread of the novel coronavirus,” he stated.