The Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) strongly believes any relaxation of the mask mandate is a step in the wrong direction.

Its president Dr Lynda Williams is maintaining that as the country continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic visitors and locals alike should be required to continue to wear masks in public spaces.

Her comments have come following recent calls from chief executive officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Senator Rudy Grant for Government to relax its mask wearing mandate on the grounds that tourists were choosing to vacation elsewhere as a result.

Senator Grant claimed visitors were preferring to go to other Caribbean islands that did not require them to wear masks.

However, speaking to Barbados TODAY Dr Williams said she had spoken to health authorities and was pleased that Government had no intention to relax its mask-wearing protocol.

Dr Williams maintained that Barbados could simply not afford to mimic the decisions of other countries in the region.

“Just look at where we are as a country. We have 55 per cent of the population fully vaccinated. What percentage do we have boosted? Of those percentage boosted what percentage of those are over the age of 60? In Barbados, of people over the age of 60 one-third have diabetes and half have hypertension, so we are talking about an elderly population where we don’t really know the range of boosting,” Dr Williams said.

“…We are talking about a situation where people are still getting sick and dying. It’s happening every day.”

Dr Williams explained that even though thousands of visitors from England flocked to the island last month to watch cricket at Kensington Oval she had not been overly concerned as 86 per cent of persons from England were fully vaccinated and boosted.

She cautioned that even though there had been an easing of restrictions it did not mean COVID-19 had suddenly disappeared.

She pointed to the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases in Europe which the World Health Organisation (WHO) blamed on those countries lifting their restrictions too soon.

“This is how the pandemic goes and because it wanes does not mean it will not wax again…but yet we feel that because it happened over there we must follow. The reason why we did so well for so long is because we did not follow everyone else. We were more restrictive than everybody else, so the fact that we are saying that the main thing that keeps this from spreading is masks and therefore we still feel that people need to wear masks in order to feel safe, Barbados has always taken a more conservative approach and we have always done better,” Dr Williams contended.

“I know for sure that there are lots of Bajans that want it [mask mandate] off, but there are more Bajans who would keep bare noise if you take it off. I think the majority opinion is still in favour of wearing masks.”

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