BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Barbados Parliament Tuesday gave the green light to a further extension of the state of emergency (SOE) as the island deals with a new wave of cases linked to COVID-19.
Health Minister Ian Gooding-Edghill, who piloted the Resolution on the Emergency Management Act, said that the SOE would remain in effect until September 22nd.
Gooding-Edghill said the move is necessary due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the evolving variant, appealing to Barbadians to follow the necessary hygiene measures and mask wearing along with getting vaccinated or the booster shots.
“We still have vaccines and Barbadians are more than capable of going to the various vaccination sites and getting vaccines and boosters as we continue to manage this particular wave of this pandemic,” Gooding-Edghill told legislators.
He said the home isolation program has worked well and that it complements the isolation facility on the island.
‘We do not have issues with regards to discharge certificates, those matters were put to bed and we will continue to maintain the home isolation policy and ensure that we manage and work very well with Barbadians,” he added.
Last week, Barbados confirmed the presence of the new Omicron BA.2 variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as the island deals with a “dramatic” increase in the number of new COVID-19) cases.
Gooding-Edghill said then that confirmation of the variant had come from the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) following the questions that had been raised last week regarding the dramatic increase in new COVID-19 cases and the possible existence of the new BA.2 variant in Barbados.
“Let me remind you that COVID-19 is still with us and is likely to be with us for a long time. Be assured that we have the experience and scientific tools to help us properly manage the impact of COVID-19. The non-pharmaceutical interventions such as mask wearing, physical distancing, good hand hygienic practices and ventilation are critical to reducing the spread of this virus,” he added then.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs and Information Minister, Wilfred Abrahams, has sought to bring some clarity to a new directive where people may now receive a fixed penalty notice o0f BDS$100 (One BDS$=US$0.50 cents) for not wearing a face mask in public.
The measure applies to a public building, public place, or while traveling on a public service vehicle or other public transport; whether as a driver, conductor or passenger.
Abrahams told Parliament that prior to the amendment, the offence was one for which an individual could be arrested and charged a sum of as much as BDS$50,000. But he said having a conviction means an individual has a criminal record and paying the fine means that’s the end of the matter.
“ A lot of people believe that last week the government instituted a fine of BDS$100 for not wearing a mask. This is not an upscale, it is a serious tone down of what obtained prior to last week,” he told legislators.
Barbados has recorded 388 deaths and 64,794 infections linked to the pandemic since the first case was detected in March 2020.