Press conference by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley – December 15th, 2021. (PMO)

Changes have been made to the protocols relating to the entertainment, sporting, and church communities to allow for the holding of safe events.

This was disclosed yesterday by Chief Medical Officer (CMO), The Most Honourable Dr. Kenneth George, as he addressed a press conference hosted by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and following a Social Partnership meeting, at the Wildey Gymnasium.

Dr. George, who spoke firstly to open air events (large/mass gatherings assembled in a single space), said the density and numbers at these would have to be agreed to by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, specifically the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit.

He also noted that operators would have to apply to the Unit and there should be agreement from the National Cultural Foundation with respect to the numbers to be accommodated.

For open air events where promoters/artistes/people are expected to be on stage and actively involved in the production, Dr. George said both vaccination and a Rapid Antigen test would be required for entrance into that area.

“For the patrons, it would either be that you are vaccinated, or you come with a Rapid Antigen test, 24 hours before that event. So, there is a slight distinction between the patrons and promoters/artistes,” the CMO said, noting the objective was to try to create an environment where the transmission of COVID-19 is either non-existent or limited.

Emphasising that this too would be guided by the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit, he said, however: “If an event is being promoted as a ‘vaccine-only’ event, please note that that is for the promoter to actually advertise, and it is not a requirement of the Ministry of Health. You can have ‘vaccine-only’ events but please note that is not a requirement of the Ministry.”

With regard to churches, Dr. George acknowledged that the current Directive states that there must be six feet distancing in places of worship to maintain a sense of safety and security.

However, he stated: “We know that places of worship and the faith-based community have been agitating for more. So, therefore we are going to allow three-feet distancing within places of worship, provided that 70 per cent of that grouping/congregation/body is fully vaccinated.”

The Chief Medical Officer continued: “At this point in time, we are not asking for [you to be tested] to enter a church. So, you either do six feet distancing, or if you want more people within a particular space, it should be three feet distancing with masks, with the caveat that 70 per cent of your population within that faith-based organisation is vaccinated.”

Information was also provided to those set to host graduations and meetings, as well as fraternal societies. They are expected to continue, guided by the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit and maintain three-feet distancing, the wearing of mask with the requirement being either for vaccination or Rapid Antigen testing.

Organised outdoor sporting events will also be accommodated. Making the distinction between the persons who are actually involved on the playing field and the spectators, Dr. George explained: “For the spectators, it’s ‘a bit less’, because we are in an open-air environment and for the persons who are participating in events, it’s ‘a bit more’. So, ‘a bit less’ would mean that you either be vaccinated or you will be tested and ‘a bit more’ means both will be required. As I said, if there is an international sporting event that is being promoted as ‘vaccine-only’, those will be promoted as such by the private operators.”

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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