Ban on plastic bags suspended as Barbados tackles COVID-19 spread

In a temporary reversal of its plastic ban, the Barbados Government will allow manufacturers to supply plastic bags to supermarkets and other businesses in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw watches as a worker disinfects the handles for the freezer at Massy Supermarket Rendezvous while Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, looks on. (Photo: Barbados Government Information Service)

Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw made the disclosure yesterday, April 15 during a tour of supermarkets where some proprietors expressed concern regarding the cleanliness of reusable shopping bags being brought in by customers.

Speaking after the almost two-hour tour, Bradshaw said “As a consequence, there’s a feeling that obviously we’re putting at risk a number of the supermarket packers, who…have given of their time to come out to be able to ensure that Barbadians have groceries.

“So, we’ve taken the decision to ensure that the plastic bag operators and manufacturers in the country are given the opportunity, during this period, to be able to supply the supermarkets and the other entities that are open, with plastic bags.”

The acting prime minister said the move will reduce the risk to shoppers and store staff.

Further, in an assessment of the country’s system for alphabetical shopping, banking and hardware store visits, she said the new arrangement was working.

Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw and Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, on a tour of Tri Mart Supermarket at Rendezvous, Christ Church with Chairman of Tri Mart, Ronald “Tony” Catlyn.
(Photo: Barbados Government Information Service)

“It has been put in place and I think it is working considerably well across most of the entities. You know, there will always be people who will try to breach the system, but we have asked and I think we have seen people are willing to adhere to the system.”

The system was introduced yesterday and will continue until May 3.

Further, she said that health guidelines for physical distancing and the use of masks in public were being followed for the most part.

She urged citizens to make a list before leaving home to limit their time spent in supermarkets.

She lauded the efforts of frontline workers, including those at supermarkets, who she said have gone beyond the call of duty. “They themselves have put themselves at risk in order to be able to ensure that the average Barbadian is able to access food and we do owe them a tremendous debt, in terms of being able to get us through this period.”