The Royal Barbados Police Force and the Barbados Defence Force will be deployed in joint patrols to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are observed by both locals and visitors over the upcoming holiday weekend.
The announcement was made during a media briefing on Monday by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Jerome Walcott, who added that the Coast Guard will provide a similar function for the pleasure cruises, and special permission must be sought for gatherings in excess of 150 people.
In updating the country on the COVID-19 management plan for the rest of the holiday season, Walcott, who also heads the Cabinet COVID-19 sub-committee said that mass gatherings – like those seen at the beach on Boxing Day – would not be tolerated.
He said that Wednesday, December 30 through Wednesday, January 6, 2021, will be considered a special period where anyone who wants to have a gathering in excess of 150 people has to apply to the COVID Monitoring Unit for approval.
Any event with over 150 people that is not sanctioned “will be closed down” Walcott said. There will be a maximum of 250 people and anything in excess of that “will not be tolerated”.
“We are bringing in the defence force and the police into a joint patrol situation as occurs for Crop Over, to deal especially this week, because we recognize a lot of persons are in that party mood. And we know that when you drink and you are partying, your inhibitions are removed and you do a number of things that you are not necessarily going to do when you are in clear consciousness and thinking clearly, and one of them is wearing masks and physical distancing,” Walcott said.
Similarly, meetings were held with the catamarans and cruise operators and the Coast Guard will be brought in to monitor marine activity.
The Foreign Affairs Minister also served notice to those hotels and visitors who breach the COVID protocols.
He said the days of guests in quarantine going to the front desk and ordering a taxi were at an end.
He also told Barbadians who have family in quarantine to wait until the period expires instead of making special arrangements to collect packages.
“We have come too far, we have done too well. The frontline workers have worked too hard to get us where we are for us to just throw it away . . . and abandon the whole process that we have gone through diligently these past months. It is too important. We cannot afford another lockdown at this point in time.”
Walcott said Barbados would continue to be guided by the science surrounding the virus.