The head of this country’s private sector says the moves by Government to further restrict movement and ultimately limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across Barbados are still not enough.
Chairman of the Private Sector Association of Barbados Edward Clarke told Barbados TODAY all Government was doing was managing rather than stopping the deadly virus which he fears will continue spreading once people are moving around.
But Clarke is adamant that nothing but a total shutdown would suffice at this stage, except for patients attending the hospital and things of that nature.
He believes the measures announced tonight still allow for too much movement of people around the island.
“My concern is that there is going to be a significant number of people still moving around to go to the supermarket and so on. Those are the issues that we have been facing already. I don’t know how they are going to practice the social distancing unless it is policed properly. This has been an issue for many people,” lamented the spokesman for the business fraternity across the island.
“The issue is that if it is here whether or not people go, the same people are going to take the virus out [in the public] and it is going to continue to spread. At some time we are going to have to take the very serious decision at locking down this country fully barring going to the hospital or a medical emergency,” Clarke told Barbados TODAY, adding that though we are trying to manage it, “cracks” are being left in the system whenever we don’t make the final decision.
While conceding that such decisions are difficult to make, Clarke however warned that once people are moving around, the virus will multiply.
“I understand the Government’s position. It is a tough position to be in, but we really are not stopping it completely, we are trying to manage it. Maybe this is the best they can do right now; but at some stage…I hope we are not too late. We will have to make this ultimate decision to tell everybody stay indoors unless you are going to the hospital,” contended the private sector spokesman.
Clarke said he thought the Government would have announced the total shutdown tonight, but expressed some disappointment this was not done.
“I thought we would have heard something like that tonight, but still seeing a lot of things [businesses] open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; 7 to 5 and 9 to 5 and so on. Although there is limited movement in the numbers, I know we still have people moving around. It is a tough decision to have to make. It is almost like war-like orders. I know people are accustomed to freedom and democracy, but these are difficult times for our world and our country and we really need to have very stringent conditions if we are really going to beat this virus,” he cautioned.
In the toughest measures to date, Government tonight pulled the brakes on beachgoing and alcohol sales closing all beaches and parks, outlawing the sale of liquor for the next two weeks and confining Barbadians to their homes unless they are going in search of food or medical or dental help.
“No person shall leave his residence except to purchase food or medicine or to seek medical or dental attention. They shall not leave to do anything other than banking business, to work in an essential service or a business that is exempt from this directive,” Bradshaw stressed in her televised broadcast which was also carried on social media platforms.
The Acting Prime Minister in the televised address, also announced that pharmacies, wholesale and retail grocery stores, mini-marts and village shops will only be allowed to do business between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and gas stations from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bradshaw said that all beaches and parks will be closed and from Friday, April 3, all Government Ministries, departments and statutory corporations will be shut down until 6 a.m. on April 15.
“The only exception to this order will be those public services designated as essential services which shall open between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; and only employees designated as essential, may go to the office. All other staff shall remain at home. And a full list of these ministries, departments and statutory corporations will be published by the Government Information Service,” Bradshaw stated.
She also directed that the owners or operators of all businesses must restrict the number of people in or outside of those entities at any one time in order to ensure that a distance of at least six feet is maintained between each person.
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