Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw said that it would not be business as usual in Barbados, with the COVID-19 pandemic being at our doorsteps.
She emphasized this today as she spoke to media representatives on a new regime that goes into effect tomorrow, Wednesday, April 8, at several supermarkets.
It will allow the elderly and other vulnerable groups to access food supplies by online or telephone ordering, or through walk-up ordering of pre-packaged baskets.
While noting there would be no opening of hardware stores, Ms. Bradshaw stressed that at this stage it would be limited primarily to grocery shopping.
Explaining that she wanted persons to understand it was not ‘business as usual’, Ms. Bradshaw added: “And, really we don’t want to have, you know, to put more pressure on the supermarkets than are necessary at this stage. So, we have asked that it be limited to grocery shopping to avoid the congestion and the unnecessary lists that may be submitted for persons to order and I think Barbadians appreciate this is not something that is going to continue indefinitely.”
She stressed that those looking to shop should “only try to get essential items at this time” to avoid a backlog as well as congestion at supermarkets, and appealed to those who had already purchased items to give others a chance.
Barbadians were also assured that in addition to the focus on keeping physical distancing in mind, under the new regime, the entities would have sufficient security in place for them to conduct business.Access-to-Food-Supplies-v_2a
“I think it’s fair to say that the first responsibility is at the supermarket owners. However, in our discussions the issue of security is a concern to both the supermarket owners as well as the government, and we’ve given the assurance through the Office of the Attorney General, that we will do all within our power to deploy the necessary resources to be able to help facilitate and to ensure that we do not have a repeat of what happened.
“I think that again we’re appealing to Barbadians to please respect the whole issue of social distancing and physical distancing, there will be those provisions in place from tomorrow to ensure that persons abide by those rules and those regulations, and we’re asking for your compliance at every step of the way to ensure that we do not have a repeat of what would have happened last week Friday,” Ms. Bradshaw stated.
Ms. Bradshaw further explained that Barbadians could expect to see members of the Royal Barbados Police Force present at the supermarkets when they open to business from tomorrow.
The Acting PM stressed: “The Royal Barbados Police Force, as I said, through the Office of the Attorney General are on board. They were actually in one of the calls with the retailers; they understand the concerns and even, in some cases, the hesitation that may have been expressed initially. But we have been asking them to submit their site plans and the Royal Barbados Police Force is working with the retailers to be able to look at the logistics; look at how they’ve laid out their premises and to be able to weigh in to determine whether they will need additional support, and also in the case of traffic regulations whether those would be necessary to ease the flow of traffic.”
While pointing out that they would be curb side pickup and walk-in opportunities, Ms. Bradshaw acknowledged that each supermarket was not the same and would therefore have different arrangements in place.
She added that for some, because of their location, it might not be practical at this stage that they be facilitated for opening because of challenges that might be created for both shoppers and the police.
Queried as to the arrangements to assist the elderly with home delivery, the acting Prime Minister noted that already a number of the supermarket chains provide a delivery service, and Government had also set up the helpline, through the Welfare Department. This helpline, she stated, was already receiving calls and those persons would be facilitated.
Emphasizing that these facilities were specifically set up to allow for continued delivery services across the country, Ms. Bradshaw said: “We are mindful that we don’t want our elderly persons on the streets … and we keep saying if you know of an elderly person who needs some items; if you can assist in making the order for them and placing the order and being able to do the collection or arrange for the delivery we’re encouraging you to do so because at this point it is about holding the hands of others along this journey. “