Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has declared war on COVID-19, as she announced a suite of new measures aimed at saving lives and reducing the risk of infection across the country.
Noting that there was community spread and confirmation that the UK variant of COVID-19 is present in Barbados, the Prime Minister announced that the island would undergo a period of “national pause” from February 3 to 17, in an effort to fight back.
During that time, there will be a number of new measures introduced. These include:
- An extended curfew from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
- The mandatory wearing of masks in public spaces from February 3.
- Supermarkets opening Mondays to Fridays from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and closed on weekends.
- Gas stations (not the convenience stores) and pharmacies will open seven days a week.
- The closure of all commercial banks from February 3 to 9. They will reopen on February 10.
- The cashing of pension cheques dated February 1 by banks, post offices and supermarkets from Thursday, January 28.
- The closure of restaurants, bars, community shops and gyms.
- Remote working for the public sector and private sector entities, where possible.
- No vending, and a closure of markets.
- A cessation of construction projects in the public and private sectors with the exception of that on Highway One.
- Visitors coming into Barbados must have a negative PCR test taken three days before travel, and receive a rapid antigen test on arrival, as well as quarantine at a Government-approved centre for a minimum of five days before undergoing another test.
- Systematic household testing of residents for the virus, in an effort to ensure that persons received early treatment.
However, the Prime Minister has given the country the next seven days to prepare for the “national pause”.
“So, that I am asking us please to prepare ourselves for this pause, and to allow us to ensure that we can give our healthcare professionals the best chance at saving lives in this country and reducing the pressure on those who may have to go in the ICU,” she said.
She reasoned that these measures were necessary to give health care professionals the best chance possible at saving lives.
Ms. Mottley said her fear was that the virus would not stop until Barbados, as a nation, declared war. However, she maintained “when this country acts together as one, there is no battle that we cannot win. We may be bruised; we may be battered, but there is no battle that we cannot win for sure”.