Govt keeps brakes on COVID-19 protocols and restrictions during Easter

Government will be keeping the brakes on COVID-19 protocols and restrictions during Easter.

This was made clear today by Attorney General Dale Marshall who said that tomorrow Sunday March 28, Good Friday, Sunday April 4, Easter Monday and Sunday April 11, the country will be in partial shutdown mode where only specified business will be allowed to operate.

“On those days, we expect the majority of businesses to be closed and unless you are doing business with those kinds of establishments that are allowed to open you have to stay at home — plain and simple, you have to stay at home.

“Bakeries can open if they wish for the baking of bread, but they will not be allowed to sell bread during those days. So no bread vans, no bread depots can be opened. Farms of course must be allowed to operate, cleaning services that clean for essential services, they can operate. Fuel manufactures, gas stations, hotels and so on, they can all operate. So the same businesses that were allowed to open last Sunday, are those which are going to be allowed to open,” he said.

Marshall issued a strong warning that the Government will be taking the business of enforcement very seriously on the Easter weekend.

“So those individuals who are planning picnics on Easter Sunday, and little mini limes on the beach on Easter bank holiday, that is not permitted and therefore enforcement will be strict. Beaches and parks are opened only for swimming and exercise. Not for picnics, not for recreational activities. And therefore we will be out in great numbers with the enforcement teams during those periods and we really want to ask Barbadians to cooperate with us,” Marshall declared.

He added that while there has been significant improvement in terms of the COVID-19 numbers, Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George and the Sub Committee, have decided that the current restrictions and stipulations must be extended for another two week period,

The curfew period will now run from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. allowing residents to move around earlier. Marshall made it clear that the times people are allowed on beaches and to exercise in public spaces, will still begin at 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. and then again from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“In relation to food service restaurants, there seems to have been some confusion. And I therefore want to make it quite clear that food establishments, no matter what kind of food establishments you are, you are permitted to open until 9 in the night. So if you are a snackette, if you are a fine dining restaurant, if you are what the old people would call a cook shop, if you are a food van, you are allowed to operate from 7 in the morning until 9 in the night,” he said.

However, the Attorney General said the food operators should not close exactly at 9 p.m., but must do so earlier, to allow employees to get off the road by the start of the curfew.

“Please do not ask for mercy, if at 9:15 p.m. you are still on the road because you closed at 9. The curfew will be strictly enforced,” Marshall stressed.

He added that while authorities understand the significance of Easter Weekend and Holy Week to the Christian community, even though some religious leaders have been asking for an extended congregation size at this time, their request cannot be granted at this time.

Marshall said churches will still be allowed to have 75 members of the congregation in attendance at regular services, and 25 for weddings and funerals.

“But even though we are very sympathetic, Holy Week I am afraid I will not see a change in the arrangements for churches,” he said.

And while there has been much discussion about when gyms will be allowed to be reopened, the Attorney General said again it is the concerned opinion of the Chief Medical Officer that at this point in time, establishments not yet permitted to be opened must remain closed.

“So in these current directives, you will also see, bars, cinemas, gyms, dance studios, yoga studios, nightclubs and discos are going to be kept closed. The owners of motor vessels, I know that they too were hoping to have the opportunity to reopen but again it is felt that it is best to keep those closed at this time.

“So once more, pleasure craft operators and private boat charters would not be permitted to be opened during this directive. Let me make it clear however that you are still permitted to do maintenance and so on on your vessels. For those of you however who think that it is an opportunity to take your vessels out and ride up and down, the Coast Guard is going to be watching that,” he said.

Marshall thanked those Barbadians, who have recognized the importance of following the COVID-19 restrictions and protocols, but indicated that authorities were still receiving reports of persons on public transportation not following the protocols. He said there have also been reports of people holding mini limes in their backyards, providing opportunities for the spread of the virus. (AH)

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