Coronavirus
BDS | Oct 29, 2020

Barbados extends state of emergency to March 2021

/ Our Today

administrator
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Opposition charges that Government sending mixed signals

Dale Marshall, attorney general of Barbados (Photo: CARICOM Today)

 By Durrant Pate

Barbados has extended the national state of emergency imposed as a result of COVID-19 until March 27 next year.

The Bajan parliament last evening gave the green light for the extension to the initial state of emergency that took effect in March this year to run for a period of six months. This follows the approval of a resolution to extend the Public Health Emergency Order.

Attorney General Dale Marshall, who piloted the resolution, told parliament that having decided one month ago on the need to embark on another 30-day state of emergency, the government felt it best to extend it for a further five months. This is in order to allow for the continuation of the COVID-19 directives to ensure that Barbados remains a safe space.

Barbados has recorded 233 positive cases and seven deaths from the virus that was first detected in China last December and blamed so far for 1.17 million deaths and 44 million infections worldwide. The state of emergency gives the government power to implement any measures necessary in the interest of the country during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is our constitutional responsibility to reflect on what has happened over the last six to seven months and to consider whether it is appropriate for us to maintain the state of emergency for a further five months, to take us to the six [months].”

Dale Marshall, attorney general of Barbados

Marshall pointed out that while Barbadians have returned to work and business and entertainment venues have reopened, it is imperative that citizens remember that “things are not alright and it will take a long time before things are alright”.

According to the attorney general, “as a government and as a parliament, we have an obligation to ensure that the structures that are needed to be in place to get Barbados safely over this chasm are in place. It is our constitutional responsibility to reflect on what has happened over the last six to seven months and to consider whether it is appropriate for us to maintain the state of emergency for a further five months, to take us to the six [months].”

In extending the Public Health Emergency Order, Marshall cautioned that at the end of March 2021, Parliament might have to seek a further extension, noting that statistics worldwide pointed to spikes in cases of the highly contagious virus. He told the Lower Chamber that Barbados could not let its guard down despite making strides in the COVID-19 fight.

Oppostion Leader Joseph Atherley (Photo: Facebook)

However, Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley claimed that the government has been sending mixed signals to the country by extending the state of emergency while at the same time engaging in social activities which breach the COVID-19 physical distancing protocol. Atherley told parliament, “I have been seeing images of last weekend, Mr Speaker, in which some of the same voices in here, were principals in hugging and feting and celebrating without any thought for physical distancing. You have seen that Mr Speaker.”

The opposition leader made known his concern that the Mottley administration was also sending mixed signals by allowing flights to come from countries where a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak is taking place, and every day bringing new cases to Barbados. He made reference to a recent statement by Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith, who voiced concerns regarding the noticeable rise in the crime rate, which he associated with the conditions of the social fallout from COVID.

Marshall conceded that Barbadians have in many ways gone back to their former way of life, but said they should still do so with caution. “The feting has started back. the social events have started back. Regrettably the workforce has not been able to get back to where it used to be and tourism has not,” the attorney general said.

He noted that locations that were closed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic have reopened to business.

Comments

What To Read Next