Lockdown continues but with greater freedoms on exercise, banks and some businesses

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The national lockdown to fight the coronavirus spread is now in effect for another week – with some minor additional freedoms.

A handful of businesses will be allowed to reopen and there was also some reprieve for residents deploring a ban on outdoor exercise.

The extended curfew officially came into effect at midnight and will run until midnight Thursday April 23.

Among the essential services added to the list allowed to operate were hardware stores, mechanics, and chandleries to enable yachts to stock up on marine supplies.

Under the amended rules, residents will also be allowed to walk, jog and run outside between 7am and 12pm with a maximum of one companion. This is in a bid to alleviate “mental stress” associated with the 24-hour curfew, said Information Minister Melford Nicholas.

Exercise may take place in fields or public roads only. The nation’s abundant beaches would make them a “nightmare” for law enforcers to manage, he explained.

Face masks may be removed while exercising but must be kept “handy” so they can be put straight back on again afterwards.

“Those who wish to play golf alone are allowed to, under the same conditions. There is to be no clustering of golfers on the greens,” Cabinet notes stated.

Dentists may now treat patients but must pay extra special care to decontaminating their instruments, Cabinet warned.

Supermarkets are being encouraged to operate online sales and deliveries but will remain open from 7am until 12pm. Banks and other financial institutions may also open daily for the same five-hour period.

Mechanics can operate as needed, while automobile spare parts stores may also operate online, telephone and delivery services.

But residents were warned against viewing the relaxation of the strict regulations as a sign that the illness is abating.

It displays a “greater level of confidence” that the populace is adhering to social distancing rules, but “no one should breathe a sigh of relief until there’s a vaccine for the virus,” insisted Information Minister Melford Nicholas.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country still stands at 23. To date, there have been three fatalities and three people have recovered.

Four coronavirus patients remain in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, two of them on ventilators. Five recently tested patients are currently awaiting their results.

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