Mon | May 25, 2020

Easter COVID curfew - Restrictions tightened for holy season, but will relax afterwards

Published:Thursday | April 9, 2020 | 12:28 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
A Jamaica Defence Force helicopter in flight on April 7, the seventh night of an all-island curfew that was due to expire on Wednesday. The restrictions have been extended for another two weeks.
A Jamaica Defence Force helicopter in flight on April 7, the seventh night of an all-island curfew that was due to expire on Wednesday. The restrictions have been extended for another two weeks.

Calling on Jamaicans to make a sacrifice to limit the spread of COVID-19 over the Easter holidays, Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday introduced tighter curfews and other restrictions, effectively clamping down on festivities during the holiest period in Christianity.

Waxing ecclesiastical, the prime minister drew on crucifixion and resurrection symbolism to urge Jamaicans to forfeit pleasure and fellowship.

“It is also a time when we acknowledge the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation and the reflection of sacrifice. All of us must make a sacrifice for the recovery of the nation,” he said.

New curfew orders have been imposed for the upcoming Easter weekend, starting from Good Friday to next week Monday. The curfew takes effect from 3 p.m. on Friday to 7 a.m. on Saturday. Restrictions will also be effected for the similar periods from Saturday to Monday.

A minor adjustment has been made for the following day, with the curfew taking effect from 3 p.m. on Monday to 5 a.m. on Tuesday.

The prime minister said that the curfew for today takes effect at 8 p.m. and ends at 7 a.m. on Friday.

However, the curfew hours after the Easter holidays will be reduced by two hours. Starting next Tuesday, the night curfews will commence at 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. on Wednesday. This adjusted period of restrictions will continue until April 21.

Markets will be closed this Friday, Sunday, and Easter Monday, as well as market districts, arcades, and transportation hubs where vending takes place.

And for traditional leisure seekers, all beaches will be closed from Good Friday to Easter Monday, Holness said while addressing a digital press conference yesterday from Jamaica House.

The Holness administration yesterday set specific rules, at least for some persons, for the wearing of protective gear.

Establishing an order to guide the wearing of masks to help curtail the spread of COVID-19, the prime minister said that persons with flu-like symptoms – coughing or sneezing persistently, and feverish – and respiratory illnesses must wear a mask. Persons with these illnesses are also under restriction to stay at home for the period April 8-21. He said that the mask should be fitted to cover the nose and mouth. Persons caring for someone at home with flu-like or respiratory illnesses are also required to wear a mask.

Senior persons 65 years and older are also required to wear a mask. Persons with co-morbidities, or pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, have been mandated to wear a mask as well.

Holness said that all four persons who have died from COVID-19 in Jamaica had multiple underlying diseases.

MASKS FOR MARKETS

However, the prime minister also “strongly” recommended that Jamaicans who have to visit public places, such as the market or take public transportation, should wear a mask.

An adjustment has been made to the order for senior citizens to stay home. The order now captures persons aged 70 and over. It previously applied to persons 75 years and over. Further, the restriction has been slightly relaxed to allow these persons to leave their premises once per day for food, medicine, exercise, and other necessities.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness revealed that the fourth COVID patient to die had been admitted to The University Hospital of the West Indies.

“So far, we have tested some of the close contacts of that person, and we have found that there are four persons who are positive, so we continue to do the investigations, and more contacts of that person will be tested tomorrow (Thursday),” said Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, chief medical officer.

Jamaica has 63 confirmed cases of the disease, having conducted a total of 907 tests.

“Relative to other countries in the region, we have been fairly successful in controlling the spread of the disease to this point. We are, however, by no means out of the woods, neither are we about to become complacent,” the prime minister noted.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com