Prime Minister Mia Mottley Tuesday blasted Opposition criticism of Government’s proposed creation of safe zones from the coronavirus, declaring that partisan politics has no place in the current battle against the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed the lives of 101 people and infected 11,474 others.
As she prepared to travel to Washington for IMF/World Bank meetings, she telephoned Voice of Barbados’ Down to Brass Tacks to charged that the critics appeared rooted in the belief that the country was now in “silly season” and appeared to threaten a general election to settle the argument.
“Now if that is what they want, tell me that that is what they want and let us get on with the business of saving this country and saving people,” said the Prime Minister. “But what we can’t have is this continuous picking from May 2021. From the time the Government hit the third anniversary, everything is seen through ‘silly season’ lens that causes them now to be making decisions or be making commentary that is undermining the stability of the country when we need to be going forward together in the same way that we did in 2018 and 2019.
“If they want the silly season to come to fruition, tell me. But I would not know how to continue in this job anymore while putting people’s lives at risk. And I am being deadly serious now, I would not know how to continue in this job anymore.”
On Monday, Mottley announced new guidelines were coming for the creation of safe zones where workers will be required to take the vaccine or undergo testing for the coronavirus at the State’s expense in public institutions.
She said: “We have to start the safe zones, where we have places where people are either vaccinated or recently tested. At the end of the day what matters is that you are safe and not in a position to put people at risk.
“So if you are not prepared to take the vaccine, then you would have to be prepared to be tested to assure the rest of us that as we mix at work or at places of entertainment or worship or at restaurants, that there must be a safe place.”
But Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley reportedly suggested the safe zones appeared to a backdoor move to introducing mandatory vaccines.
Mottley insisted there was nothing ambiguous about the move. She stressed the country had reached a point where tough decisions had to be made. She reiterated that while Government would not force anyone to take vaccines, it had to take action to ensure the safety of Barbadians, particularly the most vulnerable.
“I am distressed that our country is being made to be put on the altar of expediency for people who want political progress,” she said, insisting that Barbados has always been a country where Government and Opposition have worked together on important matters.
Citing the recent cooperation with Bishop Atherley on the nomination for the election of a president for Barbados, Mottley said the Government was not just seeking unanimity on safe zones but on getting Barbados earning again.
“And it is going to mean some difficult conversations because we have community spread [of the coronavirus].”