For the second time in nine months Barbados is going into lockdown.
Similiar to the 24-hour curfew imposed in April last year, Prime Minister Mia Mottley tonight outlined several restrictions that would take effect from February 3, which are aimed at negating the threat of COVID-19 and bringing community spread of the viral illness under control.
During an hour-long nationally-televised press briefing from Ilaro Court, Mottley also announced tighter protocols for visitors to the island, including a longer quarantine period.
She said the new measures were Government’s way of “launching war” against COVID-19.
Mottley disclosed that effective February 3, the current 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew would be extended to a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. lockdown and that all businesses excluding supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, doctors and those deemed essential services would remain closed during that period.
These are to include all markets, village shops, gyms, restaurants and bars which are to remain closed during what she termed a “National Reset”. She said supermarkets would open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday to Friday but would close on weekends.
The Prime Minister also disclosed from February 3, persons would be mandated to wear masks in public spaces.
“With respect to all other persons let us stand home. Let us treat it as stay home days generally, particularly the first week…If you don’t need to leave home at all do not leave home,” Mottley pleaded.
The Prime Minister declared that the “time to act had come,” pointing out that the decisions had been made after lengthy consultations with stakeholders that began on Monday.
“The country needs to pause and to that extent, therefore, even though there are things that you will still be permitted to do and timelines you may still have access to between now and February 3 when the new measures will start, I’m asking as far as possible for you to treat it as if it was happening tomorrow,” she said.
However, she was firm on her stance not to completely shut down the country and to keep the borders opened to commercial traffic.
Mottley revealed that along with requiring a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before travelling, visitors would now be mandated to take a rapid antigen test on arrival, while their quarantining period has been increased from two to five nights.
She said the Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Senator Lisa Cummins would be speaking with the airlines regarding a reduction in the number of flights coming to Barbados.
“Persons visiting Barbados as Barbadians coming home, as Barbadian residents, as persons who are long-stay residents but not Barbadian, as Welcome Stampers, as visitors, we love you, we welcome you and the truth be told we need you here, we really do, but we also want you to respect and adhere to our protocols and other regulations,” Mottley said.
“Let us be real, once I finish tonight there are not many persons who are going to willingly want to come to a country that is going to have an extended curfew as we will…but equally let us be real. We can’t shut down completely because we are an island and there is no way any of us in this country can predict the combination or permutation of instances or opportunities or needs that we will have to deal with and as a result, we keep the airport and flights open but we significantly minimize the numbers.”