COVID-19 update and press conference – February 26, 2022. (PMO)

It will be back to the office from Tuesday, March 1, for public servants who were working from home over the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, while there will still be provisions for flexible work arrangements, these will only be facilitated in consultation with the heads and permanent secretaries of the relevant ministries and departments.

These changes were outlined by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who joined a panel of speakers, including Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill, and Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, during a virtual COVID-19 update.

The decision for public servants to return to work was taken on Friday following a meeting with the Cabinet Subcommittee and the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Emergency Operations Centre.

“…This is a significant departure, because as you know, over the course of the last two years, for the most part, we have had some level of remote activity. And even though in the third quarter of 2020, we saw increased attendance back at work, once Alpha became a reality at the beginning of 2021, for the most part last year, we had remote work in the public service.

“It is our judgment that it is safe for persons to return fully from the 1st of March,” Ms. Mottley explained.

However, she noted that there will still be elements of flexible work as existed prior to the establishment of the regime for the pandemic which was put forward by the Social Partnership and accepted by Government.

“Those persons who will partake in flexible work must receive the consent of their head of department and the permanent secretary. But it will not be a case of all persons operating from at home as happened in certain departments before,” she stressed.

The Prime Minister said these decisions were being taken as Barbados was now significantly in a better position in relation to the virus, but warned that the country was not yet out of the woods.

And, while Ms. Mottley acknowledged that there could be no normal after COVID-19, she noted that the time had come to return to increased activity to allow people to live and pursue their lives with vigour, but doing so in a safe manner.

“We cannot continue to live as if we have nothing else to do besides manage COVID,” she maintained.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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