Mon | May 25, 2020

Mandeville mayor wants market shutdown - Cops also battling non-compliance with social-distancing rules amid COVID-19

Published:Thursday | April 9, 2020 | 12:25 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Police officers instructing persons gathered at the Mandeville tax office in Manchester to observe social-distancing guidelines after they were called to the location due to non-compliance.
Police officers instructing persons gathered at the Mandeville tax office in Manchester to observe social-distancing guidelines after they were called to the location due to non-compliance.

Mandeville, Manchester:

With six confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus in the central Jamaica parish of Manchester, Mandeville Mayor Donovan Mitchell believes areas that areas that attract a high volume of people daily should be closed to help with containment.

His grouse lies with the general disregard for social-distancing protocols of at least a metre between each person in public spaces as the island tries to limit the spread of the virus amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am not satisfied with how vendors and shoppers alike are taking this thing. Then there are the persons on the street who are there for nothing at all. They were there before COVID and are still there, not taking note of their own surrounding,” he said.

Mitchell pointed out that discussions are under way with the Government on a way forward.

“My personal view is that if we are going to curtail the spread of the virus, the markets have to be closed – and this is not the view of the Government or the [Manchester] Municipal Corporation. This is my personal view,” he said. “The market has over 400 vendors, and these people come from all over the country, in public transportation, etc, and the shoppers are from all over the country, and there is no social distancing happening there.”

The mayor said it has been difficult for the municipal police to enforce the social-distancing rules, and many persons are very uncooperative.

“People will always talk about the economy, but do you sacrifice life for money? Is the $5,000 or $6,000 you make per day worth it?”

Mitchell said the municipal corporation has been working along with other state agencies to sensitise citizens on the dangers of the COVID-19 respiratory disease and the importance of proper hygiene. He said that the National Water Commission has opened a new loading bay to serve residents of the parish in a more timely manner.

GENERAL COMPLIANCE

Superintendent Gary Francis, head of the Manchester Police Division, said the residents of the parish have been generally compliant with the nightly curfews introduced islandwide as a measure to fight the spread of the virus. He, however, urged them not to drop their guard at night.

“Generally, in the day, people are not complying to the social-distancing rule. They have no idea what is happening. They are somehow comforted by the fact that the people close to them are their relatives, but they don’t know who the person was around and who that person was around,” he said.

On Tuesday, the police were called to the Mandeville tax office to get non-compliant persons doing business to comply with the social-distancing rules.

“We try to sensitise people via traditional and social media, word of mouth, etc, and we try to understand the social issues that they are facing, but people need to comply,” Francis said. “Our people are smart. They just need to at accordingly.”

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