This gentleman wears a face mask while getting his grocery shopping done yesterday.

While there was no easing of restrictions Saturday as it pertains to social gatherings or the resumption of contact sports, a decision was taken to allow groceries/supermarkets/goods retailers to open for a 24-hour period beginning from December 10 to January 3.

Announcing this during Saturday’s media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said it was aimed at “spreading out” the numbers of citizens seeking to stock up on groceries and other essential items during this holiday period.

He explained it was in keeping with plans to reduce the large numbers of people rushing to purchase groceries and reduce the numbers gathering in public.

Looking ahead to January 2021, Rowley said there would be a virtual resumption of schools on January 4.

Following discussions with Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, Rowley said they also decided to allow 15,000 secondary school students, who have registered to write the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) January exams to do so as planned. The exams are scheduled to take place between January 17 and February 4.

Rowley said, “We will allow those exams to take place.” But added, “That is dependent on the good result for good behaviour by the population over Christmas.”

Once the numbers hold firm, Rowley said they would allow Standard Five pupils to return to primary schools on February 8, whilst secondary school students in Forms Four to Six would also be allowed to return.

He described it as a testing of the waters during which the students would be required to wear masks. along with intensive sanitizing processes which will be carried out by school authorities.

Further to this, he said the education ministry has been tasked with setting up a roving health and safety team comprising doctor and several nurses, which will visit schools and ensure protocols are being enforced.

Govt will do what it has to do to protect citizens

Asked to say if the Government could continue to satisfy its financial commitments to public servants in the coming months, given the economic contraction and the miscellaneous factors affecting revenue streams, Rowley said they have been able to maintain several sectors and developmental programmes through borrowing, as it was imperative to create jobs and stimulate the local economy in turn.

He said while it was uncertain as to how long they could continue doing this, the Government would do what it had to do to protect and maintain its citizens.