COVID-19 update and press conference – February 15, 2021. (PMO)

Government has extended the period of national pause to Sunday, February 28.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley made the announcement today as she addressed the nation on matters pertaining to COVID-19, the impact of the disease on the economy and the vaccine, among others.

Ms. Mottley told the country: “I ask you to listen to the professionals, and I ask us to stay the course for these 11 days. I hope that we will not have to do anything more, but I make no promises because as I have continually said to you, we will be guided by the evidence at all levels….

“This decision will not kill our economy. This decision might hurt us a little bit economically, but in the long run, if we can resume the normal, safe activity, you may actually find, as I was advised by the economic team this morning, that the economic activity will come much stronger in the second half of the calendar year, they believe, if we get this right at this point in time.”

The Prime Minister underscored the value of human life and said it was now necessary to go beyond the “pause” to continue aggressively battling this deadly disease.

“I cannot be driven into a situation where we are just ignoring what is happening and allowing persons to continue as if lives don’t matter, because lives do matter, and that is why we have paused, and that is why we are now going to stop,” she added, in reference to the extension of the “national pause” until February 28.

She noted that minimarts would join supermarkets and reopen from Monday to Friday, but close on weekends. She added that Western Union-type financial transactions; post offices and other courier companies which deliver critical supplies would reopen at this stage.

Ms. Mottley continued: “Minimarts will be allowed to open…because we also expect many of them to also help with the cashing of cheques for…pensions…. Minister [Wilfred] Abrahams will speak…tomorrow or Wednesday with respect to the arrangements for the pensions and the cheques that will be cashed….

“The good news is that because we’ve done a lot of lodgements…into people’s accounts, the number of NIS cheques has dropped significantly, and therefore we will work with them as we go forward.”

Ms. Mottley urged Barbadians to comply with the protocols and stressed that Government would remain on course with the six-point strategy it had been adhering to. She outlined the plan as:

  • Aggressive contact tracing
  • Operation “Seek and Save”, especially for those who are symptomatic
  • Testing at the labs coming back to normalcy, particularly with the reagents, so officials can get an accurate picture of the positivity rate and the R number
  • The vaccines being comprehensively given to as many people across the society who are entitled to receive them.  It is not for persons under 18 years
  • Adherence to the basic protocols – face mask, sanitising and physical distancing.
  • Enforcement of the directives

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