BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, June 26, 2020 (CMC) – The Barbados government announced, yesterday, the lifting of the curfew, put in place, since March, to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COBID019), as the island reopens its borders to accommodate regional and international flights.
Speaking at a news conference, here, Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, stated that the lifting of the curfew would take effect from July 1, and the airport will resume normal operations, when an Air Canada flight is due to arrive, on July 12.
She told reporters it would be followed by a British Airways flight on July 18, JetBlue on July 25 and Virgin Atlantic on August 1.
She also announced that the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) is to arrive sometime in mid-July, disclosing that a meeting will be held today, to “determine the future” of cash-strapped LIAT, which has already indicated that its services will remain suspended, until July 15.
Mottley said that tourism is Barbados’ “core business” and, as a result, the island could not keep its borders closed indefinitely, noting that during meetings with the Social Partnership, last week, there had been no objections to reopening the island’s borders.
“The reality is that we cannot afford to keep our borders closed indefinitely. However, I daresay that, in examining our handling of the pandemic, to date, we have been able to keep our number of cases and deaths at a manageable level, while, at the same time, keeping you informed and taking care of the vulnerable, as well as providing safety nets for those of you, out of work, at the moment,” she said.
“To my mind, these are all pointers that indicate that we can create and implement a plan to successfully open Barbados for commercial travel.”
Tourism and International Transport Minister, Kerrie Symmonds, revealed that several protocols would be put in place, before visitors could enter Barbados, declaring that the safety of airport workers and of the population was of paramount importance.
He said travellers, from outside the Caribbean, would have to take a COVID-19 PCR Antigen test, 72 hours before they were scheduled to come to Barbados. That test will have to be accredited by a laboratory, approved by the Ministry of Health.
Passengers, from within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), will have to take a test one week prior to departure. He said failure to have a test done, before arriving here, would mean they would have to undergo testing when they land. The testing will be done at the Concorde Experience museum, which is to be outfitted as a testing facility.
Symmonds said in an effort to facilitate larger numbers of visitors, hotels on the island had been earmarked as satellite testing facilities, but visitors will have to pay to stay at those hotels.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mottlrey said that in addition to lifting the curfew, physical distancing will now be three feet, instead of two.
The authorities said that all day care centres will reopen to full capacity from next week, and that sporting events will be able to have spectators, once physical distancing and wearing of masks are observed. Indoor events will be subject to density requirements.
The limit for outdoor entertainment and social events has been raised to 500 people, and those indoor will be subjected to density capacity and, from July 15, once the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit approves, that limit can go above 500.
The one-hour limit for church services will also be lifted, and baptisms will be permitted, once people wear gloves. The other protocols will remain in effect.