Many countries around the world are reopening at least a part of their economy, but Barbados, a Caribbean country heavily dependent on tourism, says it will keep its airports closed until it feels safe.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who is also the chair of CARICOM, an economic union of some 15 countries in the region, is repeatedly stressing that reopening airports could run the risk of importing the coronavirus.
The Caribbean country, whose revenue is made 50% by tourism, has been under lockdown for more than two months now.
But it has reported barely 92 COVID-19 cases, with most of the infected already recovering from the disease. Moreover, the country has not reported a single case since the third week of May.
“We are not going to be driven by date, we are going to be driven by protocols that make us safe because we want to remain safe for our people and for the people who are visiting us,” the Prime Minister told the BBC recently.
“The Caribbean cannot afford a second wave of coronavirus,” she added.
However, local reports suggest that her administration initiated talks with air carriers over a new social distancing and sanitary measure for travelers. But the discussion reached a stalemate over whether the tourists should be tested before they board the aircraft or upon their arrival in Barbados.
The tourism industry employs around 40,000 people on the island. Analysts estimate that the industry’s revenue could have already shrunk by 25% so far this year because of the travel restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic.