Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Christmas is safe...Holness promises that enhanced security measures won't dampen holiday spirit

Published:Wednesday | October 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has indicated that his administration is exploring ways to ensure that its two main anti-crime measures do not dampen the Christmas spirit for Jamaicans.

Holness announced yesterday that discussions are now taking place to determine "how we will handle the commercial districts in the Christmas period".

"To ensure that not just the ability of persons to observe the birth of Christ in the traditional ways, but the commerce that surrounds that season as well, are not impeded, all of those things are being considered," Holness said in Parliament as lawmakers on both sides voted unanimously to extend the state of public emergency in St James and the zone of special operations in the community of Mount Salem in the parish into next January.

The states of emergency imposed in sections of the Corporate Area and in the

St Catherine North Police Division, along with the zone of special operations declared in the west Kingston community of Denham Town, have also been extended to next January.

Natalie Neita, the member of parliament for North Central

St Catherine, who questioned Holness about plans to ease the restrictions for residents over the Yuletide season, noted that there is a "Christmas culture in our country".

"The spirit of the season keeps our people going, spiritual and commercial activities. Is there any plan, any provision for the Christmas season? Is there going to be a Grand Market?" Neita questioned.

Holness, in his response, indicated that this year's staging of the summer music festival Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay during the state of emergency will serve as a template.

"Reggae Sumfest was one in which we made provisions. It operated seamlessly (and) there was no complaint. The same kind of collaborative approach will be taken," Holness said.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com