With strides being made in the fight against COVID-19, Prime Minister Mia Mottley tonight announced the country would move to Phase 3 from Monday.
The new stage will see the reopening of several businesses, restrictions lifted on some sporting activities and extra hours for beachgoers.
However, the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will remain in effect for the time being, Mottley said.
During a press conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, held following a three and a half hour specially convened meeting of the Social Partnership, Mottley said the decision to reopen more businesses was made to get more Barbadians back to work.
Those businesses given the green light to resume operations on May 18 are cottage industries, repair services, barbers and hairdressers, churches, restaurants for drive-thru and take away services and contactless sports such as running, tennis and golf.
Provisions will also be made for housekeepers to resume work on Wednesday, May 20.
Additionally, persons will also be allowed to go to the beach between 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. along with the 6-9 a.m. window allowed in Phase 2.
While persons will still have to adhere to the alphabetical system, there has been some relaxation which allows for shopping by the groups to be done anytime during the day.
Mottley said with the spread of COVID-19 projected to be on a downward trajectory Government was working towards “balancing lives and livelihoods”.
The PM said it was important to provide safe work for safe people, to provide as many employment opportunities for Barbadians as possible and to ensure that every household in Barbados “can eat food every day”.
“I hope, however, that in our drilling down we are in a position to put as many people back to work week by week by week, without compromising the gains that the country has made with respect to where we are with COVID-19.
“The reality is that Barbados has tested a higher percentage of our population than a lot of countries in the world. I believe that we are close to just under 1.17 per cent of the population and that is a significant achievement and by no means something to be underestimated or ignored,” Mottley said.
She said she hoped that some of the over 36 000 persons who had drawn unemployment benefits from the National Insurance Scheme, would be able to find employment with the reopening of those businesses.
“We accept that with some businesses coming back on stream more and more employees will not need to benefit from an unemployment benefit in the long term and they are entitled to up to six months but some of them may well be back to work within four to eight weeks depending on the nature of their employment,” she noted.
Mottley pointed out that businesses such as betting and gaming shops, places of public entertainment, in house dining at restaurants, and gyms would remain closed.
She said consideration would be given to reopening them when the country moved to the next phase.
Mottley said the Social Partnership was scheduled to meet again next week to continue discussions.
Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association Edward Clarke, who was also present, welcomed the news of the re-opening of businesses and called on Barbadians to support them whenever and however possible.
“It is critical that Barbadians get back to work and Barbados’ economy gets back to work. We cannot afford as a country to have 36,000 or 37, 000 people unemployed at any one time and that is adding to the other ten per cent. We have to change that and the private sector is going to do all that it can to ensure that we keep people employed for as long as we can,” he assured.