Mon | May 25, 2020

Curfew breaches, fear grip MoBay

Published:Thursday | April 16, 2020 | 12:06 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor


Some residents of Montego Bay are expressing grave concerns about the cavalier attitude of others, who are refusing to obey the various protocols put in place to restrict the spread of COVID-19 and are instead adopting a business-as-usual approach to their daily lives.

One of the areas of greatest concern is at the Charles Gordon Market, where some vendors have refused to use the market, which was recently sanitised and handwashing basins installed, but are instead operating along the roadway outside the facility with disregard for the social-distancing protocol and other safety measures.

“I left my home to visit the market, and when I saw what was happening down there, I just turn around and headed straight back … to me, the kind of congestion I saw tells me that rampant recklessness is taking place,” said businesswoman Sharon Williams. “What I saw is telling me that the authorities are not taking the situation seriously.”

Williams’ concern mirrors sentiments recently expressed by Montego Bay’s Mayor Homer Davis, who bemoaned the fact that many persons often ignore gentle persuasion and will only respond to the ‘big stick’ mentality.

“Our people are just stubborn, and I don’t know what can really drive them into discipline because, our people, in my opinion, like to have a big stick over their heads,” Davis said.

Even on Sunday morning when the market was closed and the vendors ordered to stay away, several of them were out on the streets playing a cat-and-mouse game with the police, moving from street to street in their bid to evade the police.

“Me prefer COVID kill me out yah than fe tan a mi yard and dead fe hungry ... me have me pickney dem fe feed so me caa afford fe sidung a mi yard and a worry bout COVID while hungry a buss me …,” a vendor told The Gleaner. “Me understand that COVID dangerous, me see how it a kill off people in America, but we poor and we nuh have no food stock so we haffi come out come look money.”

Outside of the vendors, several churches in the city also operated in defiance of the social-distancing protocol as they conducted church services.

“Di church people dem a di biggest jokers me ever see bout yah,” said a man, who resides in proximity to a church. “Me inna me house and me hear the singing but really couldn’t believe seh dem a keep church until me actually look in there … me really have to call di police about it.”

In some communities, neighbours have found creative ways to beat both the curfew and the social-distancing protocol, but the police have caught on to it and have been taking action.

“What you will find is as much as 20 people gather in one yard playing ludo, draughts, and dominoes. When we see that, we break up the gathering and send them to their respective homes,” a police officer told The Gleaner. “We know it is not easy to have people on the inside in the type of temperatures we have been having, but these are extraordinary times and it calls for extraordinary measures.”