Tuesday, December 07, 2021

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday, April 30, 2020 – Barbados is easing towards reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with businesses being allowed partial opening from next week and a 24-hour lockdown being lifted and replaced with an overnight curfew.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who announced the changes last night, also announced a BDS$2 billion (US$1 billion) plan aimed at stimulating business and providing relief for the most vulnerable over the next two years.

Barbados has so far recorded 80 confirmed cases of COVID-19 – among them seven deaths, 39 recoveries and 34 people in isolation – from 2,005 tests conducted over the last seven weeks. In the last two weeks, only seven cases were recorded, compared to 73 in the five weeks prior.

Against the background of a decline in the trajectory of cases declining, Mottley said the island would move from Phase 1 in the national COVID-19 plan, to Phase 2 – a partial reopening on May 4 – at the end of the current lockdown.

“All the experts have pointed out that without the procurement of a vaccine or an effective treatment – which regrettably, could be as many as 12 to 18 months away – to fight this deadly virus, we will have to adjust to a new normal, and it is within this framework that we have set out a plan for Barbados; a plan that will require all hands to be on deck,” she said.

The curfew will be relaxed, and will instead run from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.

Residents have also been encouraged to wear masks, although it is not yet mandatory.

“We are asking all persons who are going into the public and moving around to start to use masks, whether disposable or cloth. We have not yet made it mandatory but we are considering doing so and at this point in time we are asking all of you to wear the masks,” Mottley said.

She announced that companies that will be able to open under Phase 2 are: landscaping services; food and beverages manufacturing and retailing; supermarkets; finance and insurance; legal, accounting and other professional services to support businesses; tradesmen (like joiners and upholsterers and welding workshops); automotive stores and workshops; landscaping, garden and pool operations; electronic stores, other than for mobile ICT; retailers of baby products; building supplies; beauty supply stores; health and medicine services; office equipment and supplies; pet services and supplies; safety equipment; security products and services; marine products distributors; education suppliers; dry cleaning and laundry services; distribution and printing supplies; and delivery companies.

Mottley stressed that any work which required human contact was not permitted, and she gave several strict directives to employers of those businesses as part of efforts to protect workers from contracting COVID-19. These include providing hand cleaning facilities at exits and entrances, barring non-essential visitors and increasing ventilation in enclosed spaces.

Under Phase 2, the sale of alcohol will also be permitted again, although consumption in public will be prohibited; and beaches will be reopened for three hours – from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily.

The public sector will also reopen on a phased basis. Government offices which have been functioning over the 24-hour curfew like the General Post Office, National Insurance Department and Customs and Immigration Departments will continue to do so, while others which provide functions deemed critical at this time, will commence operations with regular staff complements to provide full services.

The wider public service will reopen with minimal staff and will provide basic services initially.

The Prime Minister said within the next two weeks or even earlier, consideration would be given to move to Phase 3, which would possibly include the reopening of clothing stores, barbers and beauty stores, restaurants and entertainment facilities.

“Phase 4 will be when we can return to as close to normal after an effective treatment or vaccine has been procured and we can get back to the kind of life that we were accustomed to, but we are not yet there,” she said.

“If we move to phases where people are doing safe things in safe ways there will be a return of a degree of economic activity, employment, jobs and income. Note that I said ‘a degree’, but it will take a while before all activity returns.”

Providing the details of the stimulus plan, the Prime Minister said the first part will include BDS$1.7 billion (US$850,000) in capital works projects for both the private and public sectors in various areas.

Government will also be launching its Homes For All building programme and in about three months, Barbadians should see a BDS$360 million (US$180 million) Green Energy Park supplying 30 megawatts of renewable energy, among the initiatives in that sector.

Additionally, a Pandemic Solidarity Bond will be issued to provide cash for the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and BDS$210 million (US$105 million) will be made available to the most vulnerable households; government will pay out BDS$131 million (US$65.5 million) in personal income tax and VAT refunds and BDS$89 million (US$44.5 million) in corporation tax later in the year.

SXM Radio Online


September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

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