Juliet Holness: ‘Scorn dem if necessary’ - MP chides persons returning from abroad who breach COVID-19 orders
East Rural St Andrew Member of Parliament Juliet Holness is urging Jamaicans, in particular those who have returned from overseas, to comply with the established protocols to protect others from contracting the deadly coronavirus.
Incensed by the reckless attitude displayed by some Jamaicans since the Government’s phased reopening orders were issued, she said that members of the public must take personal responsibility for their own well-being by reporting persons who defy protocols pertaining to movement among members of the public.
“I don’t want to generalise, but I am very concerned with Jamaicans believing that in every respect we need law enforcement to have us comply with what is good for us, our families, and the rest of the population,” Holness said yesterday while addressing a committee of Parliament looking into the present public-health crisis arising from COVID-19.
“If you realise that they should be quarantined and they are up and about, make the report. I would want to encourage Jamaicans, when people come from overseas, scorn dem if necessary,” she said.
Holness made the plea after detailing an incident involving non-Jamaicans in her constituency who recently ignored isolation protocols to attend a nine-night.
“I have observed, particularly in my constituency, persons who are non-Jamaicans who ,when asked to stay at home, do not.
“Last Saturday night, I went to a set-up, and I saw two police vehicles there, sent by the Ministry of Health to find a certain individual. We located him long after. We went to his home, and he wasn’t there, and when we went back to the set-up, he was very much there. He is asymptomatic, and he was adamant he was not moving,” Holness said.
She disclosed that the man attended the funeral the following day and was in the presence of a “lot of persons”.
“So I am making a plea because we have had a situation where the number of funerals declined to almost nothing, where we are now seeing set-ups, grave diggings, and funerals abundantly every day, every weekend, two, three, four, five, six in a community.
“I am begging Jamaicans to understand that the persons you know who travelled and you see them out, report it, and at a minimum, keep your distance from them,” the MP said.
Committee Chairman Dr Christopher Tufton, the health and wellness minister, sought to remind the public about the powers at the Government’s disposal to clamp down on persons who violate the law.
He said that the law allows government officials to apprehend and to hold in a state institution persons who contravene the orders and protocols given by the Government.
“We are going to be vigilant in pursuing, at the least, those who we can, given that we can’t do it to all, and when we find them, we are going to have to take the strongest action to make sure that persons recognise that this is very serious.
“The prime minster has always said the Government will pull back on some of these relaxation measures if we do not act in a responsible way and if there are any signs of an outbreak as a result of our behaviour,” said Tufton.
In the meantime, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Dunstan Bryan said his ministry has expended nearly $5 billion across two financial years since the onset of COVID-19.
Since COVID-19 activities began in 2019, the ministry has received from the Ministry of Finance and Public Service approximately $4.7 billion to respond to the needs of the Ministry of Health and collaborating agencies.