EDITORIAL: Get serious with protocol offenders

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, there were several reports of persons throwing caution to the wind and either not waiting until they had the requisite negative test results issued to them in order to venture out in public or on the other hand, persons staging events without adherence to the relevant protocols, for example,  in relation to numbers present or masks being worn.

This obviously provided a clear and evident danger to the general public. Therefore, it is time we get serious with those offenders who take it upon themselves to breach the COVID-19 protocols.

Given what took place as we prepared to close out the year 2020, with reports of a rise in COVID-19 cases on account of a “super spreader event” and the need for a new Emergency Management (COVID-19) Protocol (Special Curfew) Directive for 2021 which we now have to operate by, it is clear that we cannot let our guard down, where the virus is concerned.

We have been informed that persons in quarantine will soon be required to wear tracking bracelets in keeping with the Government’s new monitoring approach. This was talked about for a while and is clearly needed. Maybe it is even overdue. According to Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel, Jeffrey Bostic, “This will give a level of comfort to us, especially based on the experiences that we’ve been having in the last few weeks.” Meanwhile, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George is on record, publicly urging Barbadians and visitors alike to comply with the rules and regulations of Barbados, relating to quarantine.  “It is important not only for your safety, but the safety of the entire population, as we try to address the issues confronting us at present,” he stressed.

Now it is a given that persons in quarantine are not only prohibited from leaving the quarantine facility, but from accepting visitors, or mixing with the public. It has also been reported that those who breach any of the stipulations will, on summary conviction, be subject to a fine of Bds $50,000, imprisonment for one year, or both. It is clear that these guidelines are in place to ensure the well-being of everyone in Barbados. Therefore, we cannot have persons flouting the rules and thinking they do not apply in their situation. We need to send a strong message to all and sundry, visitors and locals alike, that a breach of quarantine will not be tolerated.

Those who are aware of anyone breaking the rules, should also be encouraged to report any breaches of these protocols, since this is in the interest of public safety. It must not be seen that we have one rule for visitors and another for locals. The visitors cannot come to Barbados and do as they like. Yes, they wish to enjoy their vacation, but they cannot do so by putting Barbadians who reside here, at risk.

That said, it should be clear to Barbadians by now, why there were special requirements in relation to the number of persons gathered for events and why mass gatherings in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic were frowned upon. It is clear that there was some complacency where following the rules was concerned and even how monitoring of such events took place. Now we are at a stage where we have to do our best to mitigate the spread of this virus, which is a threat to lives and livelihoods. Let this be a teachable moment.

Barbados Advocate

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