Mon | Jul 13, 2020

Seniors under lockdown! - 75-y-os ordered to stay put, 65-y-os and over to work from home

Published:Tuesday | March 24, 2020 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
Trevor Small, 65, seen here on Ocean Boulevard last night, supports the Government’s decision to ban over-65s from working out and instructing that 75-year-olds and older stay home.
Bishop Dr Herro Blair prays before Prime Minister Andrew Holness addresses a press conference on COVID-19 at Jamaica House yesterday evening.
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As 65-year-old Trevor Small, a self-proclaimed garment constructor based in Kingston, walked along a near-empty Ocean Boulevard yesterday evening, he pondered the new work limitations that will be imposed on senior citizens like himself.

Effective tomorrow, Jamaicans 75 years and older have been ordered to stay at home for the next 14 days as the Government also tightened its ban on mass gatherings to 10 persons.

At the same time, the Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that public-sector workers aged 65 and over who are on contract should be allowed to work from home, subject to specified exemptions. He indicated that the private sector should follow suit. This also takes effect on Wednesday.

The announcement comes as the Holness administration warned that the country had entered the phase of community transmission in which cases of COVID-19 could spread rapidly.

The number of persons who have now tested positive for COVID-19 has increased by two, moving to 21.

Although there might be some pushback from critics about the tough measure imposed, the Holness administration is perhaps hoping that elderly citizens will adopt as supportive a position as Small’s.

“As long as it is in the best interest of the country, nothing is wrong with it,” he told The Gleaner last night, moments after the declaration was made. “I support the Government wholeheartedly on its endeavours and I can only hope that the nation on a whole falls in line.”

Holness, who made the revelation yesterday evening at a press conference at Jamaica House, said that the instruction for the elderly to stay at home for the next two weeks was not discretionary.

He said that the elderly would be allowed to conduct the essentials of life but under certain restrictions that would be published today.

“I am urging all Jamaicans to observe this. I am not making a recommendation. This is not a moral suasion ... ,” Holness said. “We have placed this in the order covered by the Disaster Management Act. So there are penalties that can be put in place and enforcement can be done.”

Holness urged family and friends to ensure that the aged are cared for.

According to Holness, studies have indicated that seniors are most susceptible to the harmful effects of COVID-19. The World Health Organization has indicated that older persons, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at a higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19.

The prime minister also advised that persons who entered the country on March 18 or thereafter must be quarantined for a further 14 days after the expiration of the initial seven days. He said these persons could put the country at risk.

“There are many persons coming into Jamaica. Some of them don’t know that they have the virus. Some of them are moving around, and what we have detected is that there is a significant number who do not want to follow the quarantine rules and put the whole population in jeopardy,” he said.

The prime minister warned that the quarantine laws “are very serious”, adding that where breaches of the law were discovered, the Government would enforce the statute.

Giving details on restrictions on public gatherings, the prime minister said that the original order that confined the assembly of persons to 20 would now change to gatherings of 10. He cautioned that this new measure would be strictly enforced, citing the operators of bars as among those flouting the rules.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com