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Barbados Government Extends COVID-19 Curfew for Another Three Weeks

Barbados Government Extends COVID-19 Curfew for Another Three Weeks

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday April 13, 2020 – Prime Minister Mia Mottley has announced that the curfew, in place since April 3 and expected to end tomorrow, will be extended until midnight May 3 as the government continues efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis.

She said the public health advice provided to her was that Barbados was not yet at a stage in its COVID-19 response where the country could end the 24-hour restrictions on movement and resume normal hours and normal activity.

Barbados has so far recorded 72 positive cases of COVID-19 out of 839 tests done since February 11. Thirty-four of those tests were carried out yesterday and one was positive. Overall, there have been 13 recoveries, four deaths, and 55 people are now in isolation.

The extension of the curfew has brought with it a special arrangement that will allow Barbadians to leave home to conduct essential business at supermarkets, fish markets, hardware stores and banks.

Under the new arrangement, which takes effect from Wednesday, residents will be allowed to leave their homes two days a week “to do the essential things in life”, Mottley said in an address to the nation over the weekend. This will be on specific days and at specific times, based on the alphabetical order of their surnames; and there are also special days and times for health-care and other essential workers, as well as for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

Explaining the rationale behind the new system, Prime Minister Mottley said: “Let’s get real, people need food. We’ve accepted that and while the initial shut down was restrictive, we expanded it [last] week to include elements of electronic commerce, which probably will be the way of the future, but which the capacity of the supermarkets are not yet ready to absorb and a number of them would have had to have asked persons to stop the ordering to give themselves a chance to meet the backlogs in orders.”

The new measure, she added, is intended to limit vehicular traffic and “the number of human beings moving on the road at the same time”. 

It also aims to allow shoppers sufficient lead time to clear the supermarkets, and the latter time to restock for the next day.

Assuring Barbadians there is no shortage of food on the island, Mottley said there is no need for people to rush to supermarkets.  

She stressed that if people could just go about their business in a manner that could defend the physical distance and the other things necessary to protect each other, then we could “get through this thing alive”.

Prime Minister Mottley said the decision to extend the curfew was taken by Cabinet after consulting “broadly and widely”, in keeping with her approach, from the outset, to bring together the entire nation, “from private sector to public sector, from labour movement to political entities and church, non-governmental organizations, all levels of society, all categories of persons, because that is the only way we are going to get through this, both in terms of securing life and livelihood”.

She praised Barbadians for their response to the restrictions imposed, noting that there had been significant improvements in the practice of physical distancing and in the actions and habits of Barbadians.

“At this point and time, I want to thank Barbadians, to thank the many tens of thousands who have literally gotten the message and have been working with us. Indeed, I can safely say that as compared to two or three weeks ago, there are far more Barbadians who understand the nature of the problem that we are confronting and who have therefore fallen into line to cooperate…and we are happy that the majority has come to this point,” she said.

Prime Minister Mottley acknowledged that there were still some people who were not yet listening and continued to act in a reckless manner.

To them, she cautioned: “The person who your behaviour might affect is the person that you might love the most.  The person who your behaviour might affect is the person who you might need the most.”

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