With calls in some quarters for Government to halt the entry of visitors to control surging COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has indicated it would take more than that for her administration to stop tourists from coming at this time.
Speaking at a virtual press conference today, Prime Minister Mottley listed a number of other events that would have to happen to force Government’s hands to shut down commercial air and sea travel again after welcoming back tourists in July last year.
For one thing, she said health authorities would have to advise her to once more stop visitors.
Additionally, she said “The recommendations from the public health officials and a determination that we can do nothing more to protect persons who are not working and nothing more to protect persons who are suffering” would also be critical factors, the Prime Minister declared.
“The Government has made a judgment. At the end of the day, we have the capacity to manage people who present themselves at the border and we have been doing so significantly in a way that I am happy with Dr [Anton] Best and his officials who go up to the airport…and equally also with those who are there from [among] the soldiers,” she said.
Mottley said the health officials also visit the hotels with those who are managing the quarantine.
Referencing the reliance of the country on tourism receipts to keep afloat, especially at this time, Mottley, who is also the Minister of Finance, promised to reveal the numbers when she meets with the Social Partnership next week.
The Prime Minister also noted that she has many other issues to address.
“You have the luxury of asking me a question on COVID. I go back to my office to deal with every single issue in this country from hazard pay, to IMF fiscal mission here next week, to the issue of vaccines, to Ministry of Health’s issues, to some other issues we are having in the Ministry of Agriculture…I can go on and on. So let us be clear, I am going to give you context,” she stated.
Local prominent physician Dr Adrian Lorde has called for a full-scale lockdown to bring the situation under control.
But in an interview with Barbados TODAY, chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association Edward Clarke said Government needed to play a delicate “balancing act” when it came to the issue of another lockdown.
He said: “There are health experts who would feel that way. I think if you consider this from a health situation most people would say so, but if you are looking at it from a national situation where you have to keep a country afloat and keep people employed and keep this country going you need to balance the situation.
Barbados has so far recorded more than 1,100 cases of the disease and nine deaths.