The current outlook for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Barbados remains optimistic, although the risk of transmission is still a problem.
Minister of Health and Wellness Ian Gooding-Edghill said in a statement today that “despite changes in the scientific factors that guide our daily decision making, infections are trending downwards”.
Gooding-Edghill said that in view of the improvements, a further relaxation of COVID-19 protocols (with some conditions) will come into effect on Monday, March 14, in the new COVID Directive:
Among them: Night Clubs can restart; karaoke will be allowed with three-feet distancing and sanitisation; and pleasure craft, party cruises and private boats will continue to operate at 100 per cent capacity.
According to the minister, the return to sporting activity will be “gradual and purposeful” and requirements have been outlined for indoor, outdoor, contact and non-contact activities. Additionally, horseracing fans will be allowed to return to the Garrison Savannah.
In giving some of the statistics, The minister said that the positivity rate is 10-12 per cent over the last week, down from a high one month ago of 26 per cent.
“This tells us that approximately 88 per cent of all persons tested on a daily basis do not have COVID, an improvement on the 83 per cent rate that existed two weeks ago.
“”The R effective, the ability of the virus to spread has, however, increased from 0.71 recorded two weeks ago, to 0.89. This tells us that the risk of transmission is still a problem.
Gooding-Edghill said that case incidence continues to decline, but at a slower rate. The seven-day cumulative cases at March 9, currently stands at 332 cases per 100 000 population. This represents a 15 per cent decline over the previous week. Two weeks ago, the seven-day cumulative cases stood at 514 per 100 000 population.
The minister explained that the doubling time which measures the growth rate continues to increase which, once again, confirms the slowing of the growth of the outbreak.
He also noted that the “outbreak at the Geriatric Hospital has been brought to an end and there are only a few new positive cases reported from Her Majesty’s Prison Dodd’s and the Psychiatric Hospital”.
“The occupancy at Harrison’s Point is approximately 40 per cent of its capacity. We, however, continue to monitor the situation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital which has reported an increase in the numbers and severity of cases of persons with NCDs and their complications.
“In light of the encouraging improvement, in the national COVID situation, the following relaxation of COVID restrictions will come into effect on Monday, March 14, in the new COVID Directive:”
Night Clubs can restart. The requirements will be proof of vaccine certificate or a negative rapid antigen test for patrons within a day before entry. The COVID-19 Monitoring Unit must be informed prior to the opening of nights clubs.
Karaoke will be allowed with three-feet distancing and sanitisation, singers must stay six feet away from the main group of patrons.
Pleasure craft, party cruises and private boats will continue to operate at 100 per cent capacity with proof of vaccine status or a negative rapid antigen test result for patrons within a day before entry.
Party cruises will be required to inform the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit prior to each event and have a member of the Unit on board with the cost borne by the organisers.
With regard to sports, Gooding-Edghill said that following meetings with the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Community Empowerment, the phased reintroduction of sporting events can take place.
“The return to sporting activity will be gradual and purposeful. Sports will return based on the risk involved.”
The following requirements will apply for indoor and outdoor contact and non-contact sports:
For outdoor non-contact sports, there will be no requirements for vaccine or rapid antigen test for participants, for example cricket, hockey, football and swimming.
In the case of indoor non-contact sport, vaccination or rapid antigen test for participants are required. Special consideration will be given to squash and indoor hand-ball.
For indoor contact, vaccination and rapid antigen tests are required for participants; while vaccination or rapid antigen tests are requited for outdoor contact participants.
The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment will set out the relevant guidelines and protocols for the safe reopening of sports. These protocols will include what is required for normal practice sessions and competitions.
The National Primary School Athletic Championships (NAPSAC), and Barbados Secondary School Athletic Championships (BSSAC) will be allowed.
The statement said any sport that requires special approval may only proceed after official permission has been given by the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit or the Chief Medical Officer.
Horse racing fans will once again be able to attend in person at the Garrison Savannah in general.
“On the matter of cricket, the vaccination only policy for the upcoming Test match at the Kensington Oval will apply to all stands. No rapid antigen testing will be required for the Party Stand at Kensington Oval,” the statement said.
Gooding-Edghill said that “we still have a way to go and, in this regard, I am confident that Barbadians will continue to appreciate that their sense and exhibition of personal responsibility will matter highly”.
“Please be assured that we will institute policies that are intended to redound to the safety, security and overall benefit of the whole society. It is useful to remind persons that COVID cases give rise to COVID cases. Therefore, protecting yourself and adhering to existing protocols are still essential together with vaccination, particularly with a booster dose remaining extremely effective in preventing hospitalisation and death.” (PR/KG)