Fri | Jan 15, 2021

Bread-and-butter issues surface under St Mary community restrictions

Published:Saturday | May 9, 2020 | 12:00 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
A member of the Jamaica Defence Force at a checkpoint on the Annotto Bay main road in the vicinity of Iterboreale, St Mary, where the community has been placed under a quarantine.
A young girl runs along an almost empty street in the Enfield community, St Mary, on Thursday. The community has been placed under quarantine after some residents tested positive for COVID-19.

DOVER, St Mary:

Residents of Epsom and Dover in St Mary are on edge, but have accepted quarantine measures imposed by the Government to curtail the spread of the dreaded coronavirus in that parish.

Security checkpoints at both ends of the parish tell the story of an operation that caught residents unawares on Thursday and was only realised when they arose at sunrise.

The heavy presence of police and military personnel, who were placed strategically at the border between Portland and St Mary, en route to the community of Dover, Epsom, Enfield, and Annotto Bay, coupled with multiple security checkpoints, was the order of the day on Thursday.

The closure of wholesale establishments and other businesses added to the anxiety of some residents. “Boy it rough, but a fi we own good. People haffi know say dem caan just up and about everyweh,” commented an elderly man, who gave his name as Joshua Brown from Epsom in St Mary.

“My only problem is that I want food inna my house. Mi nuh haffi go road, cause mi safer staying indoors than out deh. Mi did kinda shock when mi hear say di entire area under curfew (quarantine), but a suh it go.”

Worried about food

Other residents including Margaret Heslop and a woman, who gave her name only as Jasmine, shared similar sentiments, but raised concerns about how they will be able to purchase food during the lockdown.

And, Member of Parliament for St Mary South East, Dr Norman Dunn, was spotted in the community of Epsom handing out care packages and masks to dozens of residents.

“I just want to urge residents in the three affected communities, Dover, Enfield and Annotto Bay, to stay safe,” said Dunn.

He added: “So far they have been very cooperative and despite the restriction, they are adhering to the quarantine. I have been around all the areas that are under quarantine and I can report that the cooperation is tremendous.”

Bills are piling up

A farmer who has suffered heavy losses since the onset of COVID-19 in March is in full support of the quarantine measures implemented by the Government, which according to him, “is necessary at this time, so as to halt the spread of the disease in St Mary”.

“This is something that I personally expected,” said Shaquille Hemmings, the farmer from the district of Dover in the parish.

“COVID-19 has mashed me right down, so we are not producing any peak quantity right now. Usually the farm is buzzing with produce including papaya, okra, pak choy, cabbage, sweet pepper, and hot pepper, which were in high demand. I haven’t fired any of my workers, but the number of days that they usually work have been decreased,” he said.

“Production, in terms of planting, has been scaled down to about 20 per cent. Total sales per month have decreased from approximately $300,000 to about $60,000 and the bills are piling up.”

Hemmings told The Gleaner that one of his main concerns is the 6 p.m. curfew order, which restricts him from adequately attending to his livestock, especially when they are in labour.

“We run the risk of losing several piglets if we are unable to be there to assist them during the period of the curfew,” he explained.

The quarantine will run for 14 days ending on May 21.