The COVID-19 Monitoring Unit is not hell-bent on shutting businesses down – unless they flout the rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the watchdog’s head, Ronald Chapman, has declared
He again defended last week’s decision to close four bars and pull two party buses off the road after they were found to be in breach of the protocols.
Chapman, the Deputy Chief Environmental Health Officer in the Ministry of Health, said some businesses were still not adhering to the rules.
He told journalists: “Over the weekend, specifically on the Saturday, we were going to go out and do some checks but we had some heavy rainfall which kind of put a damper on some of the checks, but every day during the week we would have done a number of checks because it’s not only bars and restaurants.
“We would have checked the barbershops, the beauty salons, we would have checked the gas stations and so on and we would have had some minor infractions in some of those areas and for the most part a lot of those persons were warned concerning the infractions to the protocols.
“What we tend to do is that we warn people first. We’ve had one or two places of worship where we would have had violations of the protocols with persons in close proximity, not wearing masks in confined areas, so we would have had a conversation with them concerning those issues.”
Chapman insisted it was not the unit’s intention to criminalize businesses, saying they were warned first and that action was only taken after they continued to break the law.
But the health official acknowledged that it would take some time before Barbadians were comfortable with the coronavirus protocols.
He said: “Our process at this time is basically that we go out and do our inspections. If we see anything that is in violation we usually give persons warning, we do some education and try to bring them up to standard. Once we find that that process has fallen short of its intended mark then we take action.
“So you’re not going to necessarily find us taking some kind of drastic action like closing down someone or prosecuting someone every week, because the process is not to criminalize Barbadians.
“You must realize that persons have had to deal with rapid changes and those rapid changes mean things like masks, and none of us have a culture of wearing masks so they will wear masks and then fall back until that behaviour becomes part of the norm.
“So we tend to work with people to get them up to the standard that we want them to, but once we’ve come to the stage where persons would have been warned, would have been taught, would have been informed, and they are not compliant then we take action.” [email protected]