$500 gift from Government for pandemic ‘frontline workers’

More than 6 000 Barbadians who worked “on the frontlines” during the past two years of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are set to receive BB $500 each from the government of Barbados.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley said on Thursday the selfless contributions of the scores who worked “on the frontlines” to keep the people of the island safe during the height of the pandemic will be rewarded.

She was speaking during the National Humanitarian Awards ceremony at Kensington Oval, where six categories of awards were presented to “frontline workers” during an event that lasted a little over two hours and was attended by President, Dame Sandra Mason, National Hero, Right Excellent, Sir Garfield Sobers, and World Health Organisation (WHO) director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“My government recognises that even beyond the hazard allowance, and the flexibility allowance, and the overtime pay that what we did was to have you anchor a country without the country descending into panic or fear, and for that we shall forever be grateful,” she said

“There is no amount of money that could ever represent our gratitude to you, but as we know, given how we were raised, it is always good to give a token of appreciation to say thank you.

“It is against that backdrop my government, therefore, will honour you further with a token of appreciation to each and every one of you in this ceremony and in the second ceremony (to come) with the sum of $500 a person as a modest token of appreciation to say thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Mottley’s announcement was met with tumultuous applause from the scores that defied the adverse weather that had borne down on the island over the past few days to attend the ceremony, which was bathed in golden sunshine.

The prime minister did not, however, give any further details about how the awardees will be able to access the money.

Several dignitaries and special guests, including former Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic also attended the ceremony, which was scheduled to start four hour earlier, but was delayed due to the weather.

The Freedom of Barbados award announced last November was presented to six people on the COVID-19 leadership team of the government, including Chief Medical Officer, the Most Honourable Kenneth George.

The Honorary Freedom of Barbados Award was presented to Dr Tedros for his global leadership and friendship to Barbados during the height of the pandemic.

The Gold Award of Achievement was conferred on 60 people for extraordinary service to the country during the pandemic, including Dr Elizabeth Ferdinand, who has headed up the national vaccination programme against the viral illness.

Humanitarian plaques were also presented to representatives of countries, regional and international agencies, and charitable foundations that generously donated supplies and resources to the government and people of Barbados to assist with the management and control of COVID-19.

More than 700 frontline workers, many of whom provided essential services during the height of the pandemic two years ago, and often placed themselves at great risk to their personal health and safety, were recognised and will receive humanitarian service medals.

Over 5 000, many of whom are in the private sector, were recognised and will receive humanitarian lapel pins for providing 30 days of continuous or accumulated service within the operation area in support of the national response effort between March 2020 and March 2021. (AR)

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