Members of Barbados’ business community are more than pleased that Government has not instituted a national or partial shutdown in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases on the island.
In her address to the nation on Thursday, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced several initiatives aimed at keeping commerce moving while at the same time tightening some of the restrictions on people’s movements.
Commenting prior to the Prime Minister Mottley’s statement, Minister of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Bostic acknowledged that there was community spread and the highly infectious Delta variant was an important contributor to the rising numbers.
But responding to the development, chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Edward Clarke maintained that a shutdown would not serve a useful purpose at this stage.
“We are very happy that we are not going to see a shutdown. I think that the Prime Minister has made the right decision in that regard. I don’t think the country will benefit from a total shutdown,” he pointed out.
The local business community, particularly those involved in the retail of school supplies, have lamented the millions of dollars in stock left on shelves as a return to face-to-face classes in the island’s schools has been stalled.
Increased infections and the use of some schools as isolation facilities have led to online classes for thousands of school children.
At the same time, Clarke, a leading executive, had reiterated his call for Barbadians to get vaccinated. He insisted it was the best option for the island to return to some sense of normalcy and for the many Barbadians who are currently unemployed, to find work.
“We need to encourage all Barbadians to get vaccinated. We have enough research that shows the benefits, and the evidence is there to support why we should get as many people inoculated as possible to protect them and their families. We need to do it as quickly as possible.
“We have the ability in Barbados to provide the vaccines that are required, and everyone needs to understand that lives need protecting. That gift of life is supreme, and we should do our utmost as Barbadians and residents of Barbados to get vaccinated.”
According to statistics from the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), as of September 8, there were 636 people in insolation who tested positive for COVID-19.
As of that date, almost 118 000 people have received first doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and almost 96 000 people were fully vaccinated.
Acknowledging there were many unknows with the respiratory disease which began affecting the region in March last year, the BPSA chairman, however, insisted there was no doubt that the focus should be on reducing the number of infections.
“It is critical that all Barbadians analyse the situation. There really is no better choice at this time. We need to continue to mask up and sanitise and continue to do the right things such as social distance . . . stay out of confined areas and reduce the crowding and liming without masks.
“These are things that we need to do to protect ourselves from COVID-19. The vaccine is just one of the major options available to us, and it is proven to protect us from serious illness,” Clarke noted. (IMC1)
This article appears in the September 10 edition of COVID Dispatch. Read the full publication here.