PM dangles prospect of relaxed COVID protocols – if jabs rise

Barbadians could receive an early Christmas gift of more unrestricted hours.

And if at least 75 to 80 per cent of the population becomes fully vaccinated Prime Minister Mia Mottley Thursday hinted that the country could see all restrictions eventually lifted.

A 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew has been in effect since September 11, to help stem the spread of the Delta variant.

However, since then both the number of positive cases and COVID-19 related deaths have increased exponentially.

Speaking during a virtual press conference from Brussels, Belgium, Mottley said she was well aware that Barbadians were suffering from lockdown fatigue.

She described as “an amazing achievement” the fact that 149,355 persons in a population of 280,000 had taken the vaccine to date.

Mottley said that represented 65 per cent of all persons eligible to be inoculated.

“Honestly we want to get literally to a point that is comfortable and the doctors are trying to advise us to balance it back out. What we want to do first is extend before lifting and I think we are close to extending. In fact, I have received some information and advice that we can’t only look at the vaccinated people but we now have to also look at those who have antibodies because effectively, it is both the vaccinated people and the persons who have had it [COVID-19] with the antibodies that are more or less protected and it is against that backdrop that our first destination point will be to carry hopefully, the curfew until 11 o’ clock or midnight.

“After the point of 11 or midnight, I think when we reach closer to that ultimate threshold, whether that threshold is 75 per cent or 80 per cent of the eligible population, I’m waiting to find out, but that is when we would like to remove the restrictions completely,” Mottley pointed out.

“What I can say to you is that the tourism people are in London as well, the forward bookings look very good. It’s up to Barbadians to determine what kind of future we want. Do we want to earn again or do we want to be on the back foot waiting for people to hand out charities and that’s the simple truth. We control how fast we open back up and the more people we can vaccinate and the closer we can get to those targets, both in terms of relaxation first and then elimination completely, is in the hands of all of us collectively.”

The Prime Minister conceded that it was impossible to keep persons inside their homes.

“You and I both know that you can talk until the cows come home, you can’t tell people that they literally have to stand in a house 24/7 because they are not going to do it and Barbados only has how many police officers to go and help; and how many people in the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit to go and do it? What we have to do is to teach our people how to live with it and how to manage life so they can still buy food, still pay rent and don’t be evicted, still pay a mortgage and don’t get foreclosure, ” Mottley said.

She maintained that was the reason behind the establishment of safe zones, to allow persons to return to a sense of normalcy.

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