Saturday 31 October, 2020

Some still not complying with protocols, says Head of COVID-19 Unit

Director of COVID-19 Monitoring Unit Ronald Chapman

Director of COVID-19 Monitoring Unit Ronald Chapman

A small percentage of Barbadians are still not in compliance with the established COVID-19 protocols.

This was the assessment made by Ronald Chapman, Director of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit.

“I would say we are approximately about 80 to 85 per cent in terms of compliance. Over time I think we have been seeing compliance that has been better and better and better however there are still some pockets and we are working with those pockets. There are just a couple sectors of the community that we are focusing on and you must recognise we are dealing with a lot of high-risk areas. So, we are going to spend more time dealing with a lot of high-risk people that are in activities that are low-risk,” Chapman stated.

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In terms of breaches the Unit commonly encountered, Chapman said:

“The most common one is people not wearing face masks, by far. The problem with that one is, that is the most effective way of preventing COVID-19 spread. Of everything that we can do, the wearing of face masks is number one. It sits on the pinnacle of prevention strategies.” Not wearing face masks, he stressed, puts everyone at risk.

Chapman said he wanted Barbadians to understand that it was not the intention of the Unit to simply close businesses. He outlined the Unit was responsible for the reviewing, monitoring and enforcement of the COVID-19 protocols and that a shutdown was the ultimate step in the process. He explained that businesses were first issued with warnings and afforded a reasonable time for compliance.

“Shutting down is the last part of the job. Nobody wants to go around shutting down places,” Chapman reiterated while speaking as a guest on Slam 101.1 FM 'The Conversation' radio show on Monday August 24.  

In outlining the process, Chapman explained that in instances where entities were found in contravention of protocols, they were assisted with guidance as to the changes that needed to be made and also made aware of where to find the relevant information.

He said: “Normally we give people time to make the changes especially if the change is a structural change. If it something like basically wearing a face mask, that is something you can fix right away. If it is something like face shields, you know they got to go out and find where they are selling to buy them. If they have to put in Plexiglas or something then you got to go and find a workman, find Plexiglas, you may not find it the same time. All these sorts of things go into the timing you give persons to comply.”

After providing the correct guidance and allowing a reasonable amount of time to elapse, Chapman said the Unit would normally revisit an establishment to verify compliance. It is only in instances where a flouting of the protocols appears evident and public health is considered to be in danger that the Unit would take further action, he explained.   

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When questioned about business complying with taking patrons’ information to aid in contact tracing efforts, should they become necessary, the Director revealed that many establishments have been cooperating in this regard, with some utilising the suggested QR code technology as outlined in the protocols.

In relaying his observations over the past weekend, he noted that some minivan drivers and conductors were still not complying with the mask wearing protocol. He hinted that further sensitization programmes will be embarked upon in that sector over the next couple of weeks. However, he encouraged all Barbadians to wear the face protection as recommended.

The Unit Chief made it clear that all COVID-19 protocols can either be found on the Government Information Services (GIS) website or alternately, they can be found on the Barbados Tourism Management Inc.’s (BTMI) website. Media sensitizations programmes were also rolled out to get persons aware of and familiar with the guidelines which applied to each sector.

While the Unit is currently experiencing some challenges with the telephone system, persons who wish to make contact can do so by emailing covid19.monitoringunit@barbados.gov.bb.

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