A new limited COVID-19 directive covering December 30, 2020, to midnight on January 6, 2021, is being put in place to buttress the current one.
This disclosure came today from Attorney General Dale Marshall during a press conference at Ilaro Court to provide a COVID-19 update and outline plans for the management of the pandemic during the rest of the holiday season.
Mr. Marshall told the media: “The existing COVID directive remains in place. This limited COVID directive serves just to tighten up a few areas that we feel are important enough that they should receive specific attention, so that when law enforcement acts, they know that they are acting within the full power of the law.”
He said these modifications were necessary because of some areas of concern to Government. He noted that under the new limited directive, any person who wished to host an event for more than 150 people must seek the permission of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit.
He added that nothing could be done with regard to those individuals who had already been given permission to host an event with higher numbers under the existing COVID directive number four.
However, he stressed that directive four placed a strong burden on those hosting events to ensure that people followed the protocols of sanitising, wearing masks and physical distancing.
“And in addition to that, where those establishments do not ensure that their patrons comply, then the COVID Unit already has the power to shut them down. So, what we’re doing, though, is to reduce the ceiling, so that anybody that wants to have an event of over 150 people must get the specific permission of the COVID Monitoring Unit.”
Mr. Marshall added that because of the large number of events that are expected to be held over the next few days, there will be joint patrols between the Royal Barbados Police Force and the Barbados Defence Force to ensure protocols are followed.
With regard to pleasure cruises, he pointed out that Government was addressing the social media comments about crowded vessels.
“So for the first time, we are requiring, as a matter of law, that pleasure cruises must first seek the permission of the COVID Unit. And, the COVID Unit will not just be saying yes or no, they will determine the maximum number of guests that a cruise can accommodate following their set criteria, and also stipulate any conditions that may be necessary….
“We know that people are following the protocols to get on the cruise; so they sanitise on entering; they wear their mask and so on, but the moment they get on the cruise and the vessel leaves the dock, masks come off and we seem to forget what rules obtained.
“I can say to you now that there will be a heavy presence of the Coast Guard on our shoreline monitoring actively all of the pleasure cruises that will take place over this period. And in addition to that, we will also have the Marine Unit,” he said.
The Attorney General also disclosed that a briefing meeting had already been held with law enforcement personnel, and they had been given strict instructions with regard to events on land and the sea.
“We’re not going to be bringing down the hammer the first time…. We are calling it the two-strike rule. So, we are prepared to accept that we will warn you once, and we will warn you twice. But if the failure to follow protocols persists, we will simply be shutting down all events that are in breach,” he indicated.
He added that there were concerns that a large number of Barbadians will congregate on the beach to view fireworks. Therefore, he explained that the new limited directive will stipulate that no group visiting a beach should exceed 50 people, and they must observe the physical distancing protocols, unless they are members of the same household.
“So, for those individuals who want to go see the fireworks … we are not going to put a stop to it, but we’re going to insist that you are responsible and that the teeth of the law will come down on you if you don’t. And of course we are going to be insisting that people who assemble in public places shall comply with physical distancing protocols,” he stressed.
Mr. Marshall insisted that the country was not seeing a return to any kind of lockdown. “But what you are seeing is a recognition on the part of the Government that people have begun to get a little reckless, and we need them to tighten up, and we are prepared to put the things in place to ensure that they do,” he stressed.