As Barbados prepares to abolish the requirement to wear masks outdoors from midnight Tuesday, Attorney General Dale Marshall is issuing a caution to residents that while the wearing of face masks will now be optional in the open air, the protocol that requires persons to wear them in public buildings, is not confined to Government facilities.
“I want to make it clear to the public that in relation to the requirement to wear a mask in a public building, ‘public building’ includes a building, tent or other structure that is fully or substantially enclosed to which members of the public have a general or conditional right of access,” the Attorney General insisted.
“Already we have had queries on whether ‘public building’ only refers to buildings occupied by government agencies, and that is certainly not the case,” he stressed.
The AG said the rules are there for everyone’s protection and must be followed.
“While we have relaxed a number of elements of the directive, that must not be interpreted as any laxness in our approach to fighting COVID as a Government. The rules must be followed and in those cases where the rules have been relaxed, individuals are reminded always to use their good judgment,” the Attorney General told Barbados TODAY.
“Consequent upon the announcement by the Prime Minister of a change to the mask mandate, a new directive has been prepared to give effect to the change and will take effect from midnight tonight and will run up to June 25th 2022,” said the AG.
“It is not anticipated that this change which makes the wearing of masks outdoors optional, except for on school premises, will present any challenges in terms of enforcement, since it immediately reduces the need for policing the wearing of masks in outdoor environments,” Marshall stated.
He also said that the recently-introduced ticketing system to deal with persons who breached the requirement of mask-wearing was aimed at making the offence of not wearing a mask predictable in terms of the penalty, and also reduced the pressure on the Magistrate Courts to hearing those offences.
“This ticketing system will obviously now only relate to the non-wearing of masks in public buildings and on the school compound. The stipulation previously included ‘public place,’ but is now limited to public buildings,” Marshall said.
However, Government’s decision not to test fully vaccinated visitors coming here and to make outdoor mask-wearing optional, has received push back from the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP).
President and Co-Chair of the BAMP COVID-19 Task Force Dr Lynda Williams urged Government to urgently reconsider its decision.
In making the announcement, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said health officials gave their blessing on the relaxation of the protocols given the downward trajectory of COVID-19 positive patients the island has been recording since its initial spike in March.
She said outdoor wearing of masks would become optional even though masks were required to be worn indoors and on public transport.
But the BAMP president contended that both changes would be counterproductive in the fight against the virus.