Public service vehicle (PSV) operators were today chided for not observing some of the COVID-19 guidelines set by Government.
However, COVID-19 Czar Richard Carter pointed out that workers in that sector were not the only ones openly flouting the law.
Having revealed that community spread of the respiratory virus had been identified in Barbados, Carter said PSV operators who wore no masks, who allowed commuters to board their vehicles without masks and who packed their vehicles although they were authorized to carry only 60 per cent capacity were putting their lives and their passengers’ lives at risk.
“You are supposed to operate with 60 per cent capacity, you are not allowed to have two people sitting on the same seat and that importantly, every person on that PSV and any other public transport or motor omnibuses must wear a mask or a face covering.
“We have observed this in the breach over the past couple days. We’ve observed drivers not wearing masks; we’ve observed passengers not wearing masks. It is a really interesting thing that you would have the sector making an application for relief of the Government of Barbados because of the circumstances they are facing and some of its membership contravening the directive of the Government of Barbados at the same time they are asking for relief and in fact risking and prolonging the situation that we are in by risking further infection,” Carter contended.
“So if there is community spread, it means that you do not know which of your passengers or even if you yourself may be an asymptomatic carrier. If you are asking for support then comply with the directive that is being given and protect yourself, protect your passengers, protect the country of Barbados.”
But the Czar said he had also witnessed other persons disobeying the guidelines set out by Government and health officials.
He said this included businesses which had re-opened even though they had not been given permission to do so.
“I don’t want this to be a bashing of the PSVs because they do a very important job and they are not the sole sector which is guilty of indiscipline in relation to the instructions.
“We have seen on the roads of Barbados levels of indiscipline displayed by many people. We have seen businesses engaging in levels of indiscipline in terms of opening in spite of the restrictions,” Carter pointed out.
The Czar reminded Barbadians that even though the 24-hour curfew had been relaxed and there had been a staggered re-opening of the country, Government had the power to enforce further restrictions if necessary.
“The Government reserves the right and in fact many countries have had to do this, that if persons are failing to observe the restrictions, if persons are putting us at additional risks by virtue of their behaviour, that additional measures can be imposed or can be reversed and we can find ourselves back to where we were again,” Carter cautioned.
“Now obviously this is not a situation we would prefer but that reality exists because the health of the public of Barbados trumps your individual freedoms to a point.”