Sunday 29 November, 2020

Minister not excusing quarantine breachers; COVID-19 tracker next

(FILE) Minister of Health and Wellness,Colonel Jeffrey Bostic

(FILE) Minister of Health and Wellness,Colonel Jeffrey Bostic

Government is taking a no-nonsense approach to all travellers who violate the COVID-19 protocols. 

Minister of Health and Wellness, Jeffrey Bostic has indicated that violators of the island's COVID-19 protocols and measures will feel the full weight of the law. Bostic was speaking to the media on Wednesday, on the sidelines of a presentation ceremony at Sea Breeze Hotel when he revealed that two persons who skipped out on the mandatory quarantine have been detained by police but were not charged at the time. 

"Those persons were negative on the second test so it is not a worry but that is not the point. The point is that we have protocols and all persons who come to this country just as if a Barbadian goes to another country, we have to follow the protocols of that country and we expect visitors to follow the protocols that are established by the Ministry of Health and Wellness in Barbados," he remarked. 

According to the Emergency Legislation, the penalty for breaching quarantine is a maximum fine of $50, 000 or one-year imprisonment or both. 

Bostic disclosed that most travellers have abided by the laws, however, some visitors and returning nationals have been irresponsible. Therefore, Government was forced to deal with them with a firm hand. 

"Generally speaking we have had good cooperation from the designated quarantine hotels and villas but of course we had a few instances where people, visitors and some Barbadians returning who have not acted in the most responsible way . . . so that is the first step we have to do is to enforce the regulations and the laws but outside of that we are doing as much as we can right now to manage the situation. We have not had a lot of fall out from it so far thank God," he added. 

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The Minister of Health and Wellness also disclosed that Government will be rolling out a digital monitoring platform in early November. 

COVID-19 apps will be on stream and persons will be able to be tracked via wristbands. Government will be partnering with the Royal Barbados Police Force and the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) to establish a joint 24/7 monitoring team which will quickly respond to any breachers. 

"Once we have [the COVID-19 app and wristband tracking system], it is going to significantly enhance our capabilities in terms of being able to monitor persons wherever they are in whichever facility they are in," Bostic said. 

He added, "At the end of the day it is up to each and every one of us to take care of ourselves and to follow the protocols and if we do the right things as individuals then we will be able to assist in a collective way in terms of containing anything that comes our way".

Bostic also revealed that Government has increased the number of employees in the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit to meet the demand on the island and engage in the frequency of the Unit's vigilance. 

"We have increased the number of persons for the COVID Monitoring Unit to be able to monitor continuously what is happening across the island and I am sure once we have the digital platform in place with all the apps and so we have commissioned that we will be in a far better place and we can relax in terms of that situation," he shared. 

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