Supermarkets and other businesses across the island are being called on to limit the number of customers entering their establishments at the same time.
With Barbados moving on to stage 2 of the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plans, which includes social gatherings of no more than 25 people, businesses are also being asked to mount their response.
COVID-19 communications Czar Richard Carter stated that while several churches have already indicated that they would be suspending in-house services for the time being and instead broadcast via the internet and television, it was also worthy to note that supermarkets have already started the process of responding to the restrictions by opening at special hours particularly to accommodate the elderly and vulnerable.
“If the recommendation is that we restrict mass gatherings at this point where we are to 25 persons, we expect that this recommendation will be taken by all establishments in Barbados except for those essential services.
“And yes, it would make sense for us to identify for the avoidance of doubt. The core essential services, obviously public services have to be continued to be delivered in the country because these are essential services that will keep the country going,” he said.
Speaking during a COVID-19 briefing at Ilaro Court Saturday evening, Carter said it was important that the social gathering advisory be observed since Barbados is facing a public health emergency and global pandemic.
He said authorities expected that the public would follow the advisory, which is a critical step in containing the spread of the virus.
“There are, and we hope that it does not come to this, but there are legislative or statutory provisions where people who disobey the instruction of public health authorities, those legislative provisions can be invoked. We have the security of this country to take into consideration and the health and well-being of the entire country and if it becomes necessary then those additional powers would be invoked in order to ensure compliance,” he added.
Carter explained that stage 2 meant that a number of the 14 people who have so far tested positive have no travel history and are associated with imported cases.
And as he spoke to steps that were currently being rolled out, Carter revealed that earlier today relevant authorities toured the old navel based facility at Harrison Point, St Lucy, which will be used as a COVID-19 isolation and quarantine centre, to get an update on the progress being made.
He also announced that measures were being put in place to commence the $20 million Household Survival Programme Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced in Parliament on Friday evening in a short while.
“Corporate Barbados and the wider Barbadian public and friends of Barbados are invited to come forward and support the Adoption of Our Families Programme, which is one of the components that has been identified by the Prime Minister.
“There is a dedicated whatsapp number 255-1000 where members of the corporate community, members of the wider Barbadian public, friends of Barbados who are residents here can whatsapp the intent of their willingness to support vulnerable families. We have already received support both of material and of cash to support elements of the response,” he said.
Carter also indicated that while there has been feedback about persons having difficulty getting through to the Ministry of Health hotline due to the large volume of calls, Government was in the process of seeking to “beef up the hotline provision in terms of the capacity”, in addition to increasing the number of persons who would be available to respond to the anticipated and noticed increase in the numbers of persons calling the hotline. (AH)