Come February 14, Barbados will lift the 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew giving way to the resumption of many recreational activities for the people of the Island to enjoy, once again.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill, made the announcement Saturday during a COVID-19 update and press conference at Ilaro Court.
“In order to move the country back to opening while observing protocols, the curfew will be removed. Therefore, with effect from this Monday, February 14, which happens to be Valentine’s Day, the curfew will be lifted. I am sure that restaurants and other authorised dining facilities will want to fully cater to the ‘pent up’ demand of Barbadians and visitors on this extra special day. Patrons will no longer have to watch the clock,” the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) quoted him as saying.
According to the BGIS, the Minister noted that:
The six feet rule for distancing will no longer apply, except where persons exercise together outdoors, without wearing a mask. In all other cases, the physical distance of at least three feet will apply.
Hiking will also be allowed in no greater groups of 30 individuals
Pleasure craft and private boats, chartered for private cruises will move from 50 to 100 per cent of their authorised number of passengers. Proof of vaccination or testing will be required prior to boarding.
Party cruises will be allowed to operate at 100 per cent of their authorised number, subject to proof of vaccination and Rapid Antigen Test and the presence of an officer from the COVID Monitoring Unit on board all cruises.
Noting that public health officials had indicated that these outdoor open air events would not pose a significant threat to public health once the protocols were followed, Mr. Gooding-Edghill said cricket capacity at the Kensington Oval for the upcoming international tournaments would move from 60 to 80 per cent, fully vaccinated.
Additionally, it was disclosed that there will be no restriction of beach activity and parks, as the previous 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. stipulation would no longer apply and Barbadians and visitors alike would again be allowed to enjoy these facilities without limitation.
Also, public service vehicles will be allowed to increase the authorised number of sitting passengers from 75 per cent to 100 per cent, wearing masks. However, they will not be allowed to carry standing passengers.
Addressing the issue of students returning to school, the Health Minister said when the Ministry of Education [Technological and Vocational Training] settled on this, his Ministry would discuss an agreed timetable for the safe return of community-based events, including sporting events. This, he added, was expected to be done in a few weeks’ time.
However, Mr. Gooding-Edghill cautioned Barbadians that the relaxation of these elements within the Directive, while giving more freedom, was “by no means a signal that the outbreak is over”.
He stressed: “The further easing of some restrictions is another step of return to life in Barbados as we used to know and love it. These acts of national relief should hopefully bring about a noticeable reduction in stress and anxiety among the population. “Personal responsibility is critical to the protection of yourselves, your family and workmates. It is absolutely critical that all Barbadians comply with the guidance and protocols given by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.”
Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill (Photo courtesy of the Prime Minister’s Office)