Government will be implementing a “three-phase operation” to bring the recent spike in COVID-19 cases under control.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, outlined the measures this evening during a press conference, which was called after the country recorded 40 new cases on Saturday, July 10.
The first phase involves aggressive contact tracing, utilising all resources available to the Ministry – human and technical.
The second part of the operation will see a return to community testing since persons were presenting late with symptoms to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and doctors’ offices.
Minister Bostic said this suggested that public health officials needed to go back to communities to appeal to persons “who have symptoms and are not feeling well” to get tested.
The third phase of the plan is to restrict people’s movement by implementing a number of measures from this Tuesday, July 13, for a period of two weeks, in an effort to curb the rise in cases.
The measures are as follows:
- The curfew will be re-introduced from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
- There will be no social gatherings, such as fetes, for at least the next two weeks until public health officials get a handle on the situation.
- Attendance at churches, cinemas and other indoor settings will be capped at 100 persons. This includes funerals and weddings.
- Summer camps will be put on hold during this period.
- Full contact sports will also be put on hold.
- There will be no spectators at sporting events, such as cricket.
- Dance studios and clubs will be put on pause for two weeks, as well.
- Persons in the public transport sector will only be allowed 75 per cent seating capacity on buses. No standing will be permitted.
- Wherever possible, persons who can should be allowed to work from at home.
The Health Minister explained these measures were not meant to make people “miserable”, but were necessary to ensure the safety and security of the country.
Lt. Col. Bostic said while it was expected there would continue to be COVID-19 cases the lapse in adherence to the protocols was a major concern.
“What we are seeing is not good, in terms of how people are treating to the protocols. I have repeated on many occasions from early in the game that with vaccines or without vaccines, with people coming into the country or people not coming into the country, at the end of the day, it is up to each and every single one of us to follow the true and scientifically tested protocols – mask-wearing, physical distancing, sanitising, respiratory etiquette. These are the things that will save us. I really beseech you, Barbadians, visitors, residents, please adhere to the protocols,” he implored.
He said the Emergency Management (COVID-19) Protocol Directive 2021 would be amended accordingly to bring the measures into effect, legally, by Tuesday.