Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley is urging Barbadians to adhere to the recently imposed nightly curfew and the COVID-19 protocols, which include the wearing of masks and regular sanitising of hands.
During the address to the nation Friday night, in which it was announced that more prison officers had tested positive for the virus, as well as four persons from the Barbados Defence Force after attending a bus crawl, Ms. Mottley urged the public to desist from liming and engaging in activities which could possibly spread the virus.
She indicated that the situation could be controlled if persons did the right thing. “If we can just cut out the bus crawls; cut out the liming for now, it ain’t going to kill you; it ain’t going to kill none of us….
“As it relates to the wider issue of public health, we have to be more serious. I don’t know where we have gotten…this notion that the only way we can enjoy ourselves is with music and alcohol…. And I’m not using a big set of long words or long talk to tell Barbadians – cut it out. Cut it out,” she insisted.
The Prime Minister said she had not made the wearing of masks mandatory because there were some people in the society who had serious medical challenges while wearing them.
She continued: “But I’m prepared to consider it, if the public health officials require it. The difficulty is that a person who genuinely has a medical issue may well be that person who is confronted and fined, and it is not this Government’s intention to criminalise people unnecessarily.”
Describing the situation involving the local officials who recently contracted the virus as a serious and challenging one, which required cooperation, Ms. Mottley urged the public not to panic.
She expressed the view that there was a social media campaign of panic being spread. However, she stressed that those in the country who could speak with any authority on this issue were the Chief Medical Officer, the Minister of Health and the Cabinet Sub-Committee. She added that the public could receive reliable information from the official channels of communication.
The Prime Minister said this was not the time to be involved in recriminations, but to focus efforts on the containment of the virus. She encouraged any persons with information to share with the authorities.
“If we manage this well in the next few days, … within less than two weeks, we can try to contain this as far as possible. But we do need the cooperation….
“A time may come when we will have to discuss the recklessness of members of the security forces having a bus crawl on Boxing Day, in the middle of a pandemic, but that is not the time for now. Our time, in the next 48 to 72 hours, is to ensure that we contain the spread by ensuring that we bring in all of the persons with whom these persons had contact and to quarantine, restrict them; test them; and where necessary, take the appropriate action to treat them,” she outlined.
Ms. Mottley said Government was satisfied with the systems in place to keep the prison safe. She stated that vaccines would be available here hopefully within the next three months or so, under the COVAX Facility, adding that Government was also seeking to purchase some separately.