Dems knock COVID-19 response

Senator Damien Griffith speaking to the children and parents of Project SOFT. (Pictures by Shaka Mayers)

The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) says Government’s ‘hope for the best’ policy in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis is unrealistic.

Acting general secretary and spokesperson on tourism, Damien Griffith, noted Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic did not announce any new significant measures Barbados would be taking regarding visitors arriving from the United Kingdom.

Since a mutated strain of the COVID-19 virus was discovered there, several countries closed their borders to visitors from the United Kingdom.

In an address on Tuesday, Bostic said the airport would remain open.

Griffith queried whether money was more important than the health of the nation.

The full statement follows:

The recent announcement of the expanded Covid-19 restrictions for the United Kingdom including the lockdown of London is a confirmation that the optimistic prognosis presented by the Senator the Hon. Lisa Cummins, Minister of Tourism is extremely misguided and a clear indication that the ‘hope for the best’ approach to the most serious crisis the global tourism industry has faced to date is unrealistic. While we may hope for a quick recovery, our plans should mitigate an extended period of uncertainty.

Since the United Kingdom issued its mandatory shut down Caribbean countries have also closed their borders to persons entering the island from the United Kingdom.

Jamaica was the first country to do so by closing their borders to all persons arriving from the United Kingdom effective immediately for a period of two weeks ending January 4th, 2021.

Despite this, Barbados’ Minister of Health, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffery Bostic in his last address to the nation did not announce what new significant measures Barbados would be taking regarding persons arriving from the United Kingdom. In fact, since reporting that Barbados had an additional fourteen cases on Sunday December 19th, there has been no update on the extent of exposure caused by the non-Barbadian family who tested positive with COVID19.

These developments have raised the level of seriousness as far as the pandemic is concerned. Tourism, often touted as the engine of growth for Barbados, has taken a hammering in its wake. As a country we are dependent on this sector for much needed foreign exchange, the earning of which is at an all-time low. Nevertheless, we must ask ourselves a question: Is money more important than the lives of Barbadian citizens? Many of whom are among the most vulnerable due to the unprecedented number of persons with co-morbidities resulting from high prevalence of non-communicable diseases on island.

Three months ago, the Minister of Tourism assured Barbadians that “by December, most if not all of the country’s traditional tourist accommodations would be up and running”. Instead, we are facing a growing list of problems for which the current administration has no clear answers.

It is time that a plan which addresses the magnitude of the problem is formulated, a plan that capitalises on the opportunities created by this pandemic and recognises that the new normal is for us to determine ourselves. The people of Barbados deserve better! The people of Barbados deserve to be treated with a level of dignity and respect.

Captain the ship is sinking! 

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