A much larger percentage of Barbados’ workforce will be reporting for duty from next week.
Citing a steady decline in the number of positive COVID-19 cases within the past few days as well as a significant decrease in the last two weeks, Prime Minister Mia Mottley this afternoon eased some restrictions while giving the green light for several businesses to re-open from next Monday.
Along with adjusting the 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew to 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Mottley moved closer to a full re-opening of the country with only a few businesses not given permission to open from March 15.
In a live address this evening, the Prime Minister said while the country was “absolutely not out of the woods” there had been enough encouraging signs to allow for restrictions to be lifted.
Mottley said of the 19 new positives recorded Wednesday, eight of them had already been sent to Harrison’s Point previously for assessment.
She said the fact that over 50,000 persons had been vaccinated so far was also a contributing factor in the decision.
“This comes on the heels of four days of a steady decline in positive cases. That is nowhere enough but it is certainly trending in the right direction. The number of new confirmed infections reported for the two-week period under review was 520, which is almost a 50 per cent decrease. In fact, it is a 46 per cent decrease from the previous fortnight when we had 960 persons,” Mottley revealed.
“The cumulative incidence therefore for this period is 180 positives out of every 100,000 people compared to 334 positives out of every 100,000 people, an improvement of almost by half.
“…Are we out of the woods? Absolutely not. Do we have, however, a far better sense and a far better level of performance than we did two weeks ago and four weeks ago and six weeks ago and eight weeks ago? Yes, we are trending in the right direction,” the Prime Minister declared.
Mottley admitted that while Government was “taking a chance” in re-opening Barbados even further, it was buoyed by the fact Barbadians were being more compliant with the directives and were wearing masks more often than not.
However, she said, following a meeting of Cabinet, a decision had been taken to allow Barbadians impacted by the current restrictions to return to work.
“We discussed the importance of the principle of allowing Barbadians to be able to work and earn a living for the most part as far as possible. It means that we are taking a chance once again and we believe we can take it, conscious that what I said about persons complying will continue and that where we fall or appear to be slipping, that others will remind us to do what we have to do,” Mottley said.
In announcing the change of restrictions, Mottley said along with the relaxing of the curfew, barber shops, hairdressers, bars, retail stores, daycares and nurseries would be allowed to open from Monday.
All restaurants, excluding fast-food restaurants, will be allowed to open for in-house dining, subject to the protocols enforced by the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit.
Churches and weddings will now be allowed to have a maximum of 75 persons.
However, gyms, pleasure crafts and private charters are to remain closed, while non-contact sports with the exception of squash and table tennis will be allowed.
Additionally, public transport vehicles will be allowed to carry 75 per cent of their maximum capacity, up from 60 per cent.
With a slew of restrictions being lifted Mottley reminded Barbadians to be responsible in their actions.
“The last thing I want to say to you is keep calm and stay focused…The only way we are going to win this battle is by working and staying together. When we drop our guard the chances of us being able to fight this pandemic drops significantly,” the Prime Minister insisted.
“At this point in time, other than work, other than earning a living, I’m asking us to keep it down still, keep calm, stay focused and we will make this together.”