It is either the COVID-19 vaccine or frequent PCR tests.
Those are the options for people living and working in Barbados as Prime Minister Mia Mottley yesterday announced the creation of “safe zones” during a national address and COVID-19 update from Ilaro Court.
Government has stated there will be no mandatory vaccination policy in place in Barbados, but people in high-risk environments will be subject to these conditions.
“The reality is that we are satisfied that we need now at this stage to start the process of the creation of safe zones; that we need to be able to have places where persons are either vaccinated or recently tested . . . ,” Mottley said.
“. . . Vaccinated or recently tested because at the end of the day, what matters is that you are safe and not in a position to put each other at risk.”
Up to Monday evening, Mottley said, 142 543 people had taken at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Barbados. But she told those who were eligible to take the jab but chose not to do so, had to understand there were “consequences to the choices”.
“You have to be prepared to be tested to assure the rest of us that as we mix, whether it is at work, whether it is in places of entertainment, whether it is in places of worship, whether it is in restaurants or hotels, anywhere that people frequent, that there must be a safe zone.”
The Prime Minister said it was the most “realistic option”.
Mottley said they reached this decision after wide consultation with medical and technical people, both here and abroad, recognising that lockdowns don’t work.
The 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew remains in place, and she said when the number gets close to 70 per cent vaccination among the eligible population (those 12 years and older), Government would start to look at changes to the restrictions to those hours of movement.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness will spearhead the rollout of guidelines to the public. These measures will apply to people working in Intensive Care Units, the Accident and Emergency Department, urgent care facilities, isolation facilities, swabbing centres, nursing homes and outpatient clinics. Unvaccinated people in these high-risk areas will have to be tested once a week while those who are vaccinated will have a less frequent testing regime.
Government will pay for the tests in public sector.
The Prime Minister said this was communicated to the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners, the Barbados Nurses Association and trade unions. After healthcare workers, the rollout will continue with frontline workers, then the tourism and hospitality sector and those in education.
There will be meetings with the business community and labour unions to see how safe zones can be created for patrons.
Up to October 10, Barbados recorded 11 132 cases of COVID-19 and 98 deaths.