Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley announced Thursday night that when the three-and-a-half-week lockdown ends on February 28, businesses will be allowed to reopen in phases, but a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will remain in place.
Motley said the “science and efforts of all recognize sharp shutdown but gradual reopening”, and that was the approach her government was advised to take “and it is the one that we shall take”.
Barbadians have been on a “national pause” since February 3, with most commerce reduced to a bare minimum. Supermarkets, bakeries, gas stations were among the handful of businesses allowed to operate during the period.
However, Prime Minister Mottley said that from March 1, construction, agriculture, fisheries, auto repair and manufacturing services will also be allowed to resume. Hardware, appliance, farm and gardening, plumbing and electronic and IT stores will also reopen.
Fast food restaurants will be allowed to operate drive-thrus, curbside pickup, and delivery, but indoor dining will not be permitted. Markets will also reopen.
Additionally, Prime Minister Mottley said, Government entities like the post office, law courts, registry and land registry will reopen, and administrative offices can reopen with minimum staff.
However, Prime Minister said individuals who can work effectively at home should continue to do so.
Among those businesses that are still on pause are boutiques, barbers, hairdressers and nail technicians.
“We’re going to get to you, but at this point in time the Ministry of Health has advised that they would wish to limit it,” Prime Minister Mottley said.
Gyms, massage parlours will also remain closed. However, in addition to the 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. period currently allowed for exercise outdoors, a 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. period has been added.
Under the phased reopening, businesses will be closed on Sundays, except for gas stations which will be permitted to open to sell fuel only.
Prime Minister Mottley urged residents to follow the directives and protocols so Barbados can reduce the COVID-19 numbers.
“I know that we have what it takes to rise above this moment in time. I ask you, therefore, let us as people who have the honour and privilege of living on this blessed rock to do the right thing to each other, for each other, with each other and stay the course. Let us battle this pandemic as I know we can and shall,” she said.
The latest COVID-19 statistics, available for testing up to Wednesday, showed that Barbados had recorded 2,949 cases since March 2020, with 746 of them being active.
The total number of deaths stood at 32.
“I’m confident that following the last two weeks of pause and the last weekend of stop, with the continuation of restrictions our numbers shall bottom out and begin to decline,” Prime Minister Mottley said.
“But I’m also resolute that if they don’t I’m going to be back here and we’re going to apply brakes,” she cautioned.