Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley is again asking Barbadians over the age of 70 to stay at home for the time being, while Government continues to manage the recent increase in COVID-19 cases.
Ms. Mottley made the request on Monday during a COVID-19 update, where she, several of her ministers and senior government officials interacted with callers for three hours on matters pertaining to the evolving situation involving prison officers and prisoners who recently tested positive for the virus.
“Early on in the pandemic, I would have said to the most vulnerable in the population that please take precautions, and I say it again…if you are in that highly vulnerable group over 70, for now, just stay home; just take it easy,” she stated.
The Prime Minister noted that public officers who could work from home would be doing so during this period. She added that she had recently spoken with the Head of the Private Sector and advised that where their employees could work remotely, then that should be their first option.
“We are asking those employers and employees to consult with one another. This is not new to us, many of you were already working from home…and therefore we can go back to those modalities, at least until the 14th of January, and we will review then as to whether we need to extend.
“Those who clearly cannot work from home because you are working in areas of activities that require face-to-face, whether construction sites, supermarkets, etcetera, we have all put protocols in place, and we are satisfied that those protocols have been working. Indeed, they have not been at the centre of any of the breaches or any of the contact tracing,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley said some people in the public and private sectors were being asked to work remotely to reduce the pressure on public transport, wherever possible.
She explained that limited space had the potential to become a difficult area in which to manage the virus, especially if persons were not adhering to the reduction of density in the protocols.
On June 6, 2020, the Prime Minister noted a document entitled: Suggested Guidance for Addressing the Risk for Severe COVID-19 in Relation to Employment in Barbados, was issued. That document, she continued, outlined the different tiers of stages 3A, 3B and 3C; explaining that 3A is less than 20 cases per week; 3B is 20 to 35, and 3C is more than 35 cases per week.
“We have clearly entered the stage of 3C, and what that means for the purpose of workers and employers is that there are suggested recommended actions. For persons, for example, who are over the age of 60, and who are in frequent or prolonged or intimate interaction with persons in their workplace, we suggest remote working, and if remote working is not possible, we suggest mask and shielding, and where necessary, as has already happened, the perspex guards that can protect persons from interacting with persons.
“Similarly, persons who are currently smokers, or persons whose body mass index is over 40, … and have occasional interaction with persons, then we equally suggest remote working, or where necessary shielding between the mask, and if it is absolutely intimate, the face visors, in addition to the mask. And where the persons have no risk factors and have infrequent or intermittent or distant interaction, we consider them looking at the work environment to see how it can be enhanced,” Ms. Mottley said.
The Prime Minister indicated that the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit had worked with almost every sector in the country to put protocols in place, and for the most part, they had been followed.