Wed | Sep 23, 2020

Anger boils over as shoppers protest St Thomas quarantine

Published:Tuesday | August 11, 2020 | 12:23 AMShanna Monteith/Gleaner Writer

Tempers flared in Bamboo River, St Thomas, on Monday morning as residents of the quarantined community pleaded with the security forces to allow them to run errands in the parish capital of Morant Bay, a stone’s throw from the entrance to their district.

Monday marked the first of three shopping days per week allowed by the Government to the residents of Church Corner, Bamboo River and areas of Summit, which were placed under lockdown on Independence Day because of a rash of coronavirus cases.

Jamaica has recorded 1,031 COVID-19 cases, with eight new infections confirmed on Monday. Fourteen people have died.

The St Thomas police have ramped up efforts to manage shopping arrangements and to prevent persons from fleeing the quarantine zone and shopping perimeter.

However, the residents have described the process as inefficient and undignified.

Angela Johnson of Bamboo River told The Gleaner that despite being allowed to exit the community, she was being prevented by the security forces from going into the town to access money to purchase food for her three children.

“They tell us that we could have come out today (Monday) and do some shopping, and when we come out, they blocked us on the road. Them a send us go supermarket to go and shop and we can’t do that without money,” Johnson said.

“I wanted to go to the Western Union to collect money to shop and dem a seh we can’t pass.”

Johnson said that residents were caught off-guard by the imposition of the quarantine, shortly after sunset on August 6, and could not make the necessary preparations.

“Now they are treating us like we are animals or a we mek corona, and people have been cheating the system, because you have people from the same community who are walking on the other side of the road,” Johnson added.

Another resident was upset that she was prevented from collecting a pension cheque at the post office.

“I was cleared at the entrance of the community, but when I was to go into Morant Bay, they didn’t want us to pass, and we were there for over an hour. It’s unfair.

“One set said we can come out, and when we reach out, another set said we cannot pass,” the resident recounted.