by Sampson Nanton
Lead Editor Content Distribution

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced three main phases by which the country will reopen following the shutting down of businesses to combat COVID-19. He outlined the elements of all six phases but only detailed timelines for the first three.

The first phase will run from May 11 to May 23, the second from May 24 to June 6 and the third from June 7 to June 20.

He told the country in a news conference on Saturday that “as we monitor, if the numbers are just as good as now, we will take steps to advance the phases.”

He explained that if the figures do not increase in any major way, Phase 2 can come earlier than May 24 and Phase 3 earlier than June 7.

But he also made it clear that if there is a spike and the numbers are not under control by the end of any phase, “the necessary sensible arrangements to be made” to protect lives.

“If the spike looks more serious and dangerous, we will have to resort to what was done before,” he said, telling the nation and each and everyone must now play his or her part to ensure that the virus does not spread.

Bars will remain closed and services such as hairdressing will fall in later phases. Schools will remain closed in accordance with the time previously announced, that is, in September.

Exemptions in place for religious gatherings will remain.

The following are his announcements on the phases:

Phase 1: May 11 – May 23

  • From Monday, May 11, food establishments and restaurants would be allowed to open and provide food services across the country but no in-service dining will be allowed. Itinerant and non-itinerant services can allow curbside pick-up, drive-through and walk-in pick-up. It must end at 8 pm. All employees of food outlets can now go to work and food purchased in a normal way. The expectation is that those doing street food will do so the highest level of hygiene.
  • Members of the public will be allowed to engage in restricted outdoor activities. This will exclude team or contact sports activities or any activity that require gatherings. You can come out to walk, hike etc, but don’t congregate in groups of more than 5 and keep 6 feet away. No hugging, no hand-shaking, no kissing.
  • Hardwares, electrical stores to open all day to 8 am-4 pm; groceries to continue 8 am-6 pm.
  • Approval for TCL, WITCO, Nu Iron to resume operations from Monday. The main reason is for exports to the regional market.
  • We still want a level of stay at home. If you are non-essential, stay at home.
  • Once you leave home to go outside. wear a face covering. each and every one of us must behave as though we are carrying the virus.

Phase 2: May 24 to June 6 (if the numbers remain good)

  • The manufacturing sector can open back on May 24.
  • Public-sector construction will be restarted.
  • Continuation of 50% capacity for public transportation – taxis and maxis.

Phase 3: June 7 to June 20 (if the numbers remain good)

  • All public service will come back out to work with elements of flexitime where possible. May also consider alternate days of work.
  • Private sector construction will be allowed.
  • Increase capacity of maxis and taxis to 75%.

Phase 4: To be determined

  • Reopening of malls & beaches.

Phase 5: To be determined

  • Reopening of cinemas.

Phase 6: To be determined

  • Reopening of borders. With regards people wanting to leave, the prime minister said the country “is not a prison” but Minister of National Security Stuart Young also announced that they are looking at cases in which people want to leave, including farm workers in Canada and will deal with each case as it comes, with the care that citizens are guarded against venturing to places where they themselves can be placed in danger of the virus.

The opening of other commercial businesses other than those mentioned above, will be determined at a later date.

“This is not a getaway card,” the prime minister said.

He told the news conference that it was easier for him to make the decisions to close down the non-essential services than it was is to make the decisions he made Saturday.

“Because I am a little nervous now about opening up because we have seen what has happened elsewhere,” he said.

He reminded the country that “we are not virus free” adding that “there is no country in the world that has declared itself virus-free.”

“That means we have to keep our guard up as we now take the risk of going out,” the prime minister said.