Thu | Aug 6, 2020

PM announces revised COVID measures, as government seeks to stimulate economic activity

Published:Sunday | May 31, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Even as recoveries from COVID-19 outnumber active cases, Jamaica will maintain some restrictions, as it cautiously seeks to stimulate economic activity. 

Jamaica now has 586 cases of the disease, but recoveries have reached 311, with 21 new cases of recovery today and only five new cases of the disease. This pushes the percentage of recoveries to 53 per cent of cases. 

During a press conference a short while ago, Prime Minister Andrew Holness noted that the country is likely to experience its most significant downturn in four decades, but he noted that government was cautiously moving to re-energise the economy with the relaxing of some restrictions. However, he cautioned that the measures would be re-imposed if there was a resurgence in infections. 

New measures

The current curfew hours, which currently run from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m will be maintained until June 14. At its expiration, the curfew will move 10:00 p.m to 5:00 a.m. Public transport operators will continue to be allowed an additional hour before and after the end of the curfew to commute. 

Stay at home measures will be maintained for persons 65 years and older. They will be allowed to leave home once per day to access services or to attend church. Persons with respiratory illnesses are to remain at home. 

The restrictions on gatherings will be maintained until June 30. There should be no gathering of more than 10 people. Physical distancing of six feet and must remain in place and masks must be worn in public. 

Restrictions for correctional institutions, infirmaries, nursing homes and hospitals will also remain in place until June 30. There will be no visitation at correctional facilities; no new patients will be accepted at infirmaries or visitors allowed, while only one visitor per day will be allowed in hospitals. 

Markets will also continue to operate from 6:00 a.m- 6:00 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and closed on Sundays, while barber and beauty shops must continue to observe the rule of no more than 10 people in the establishment at any one time.  

The prime minister said buses will continue to provide only seated transportation for passengers, but relaxed the rule for taxis. They will now be allowed to carry the required number of passengers based on their licences. They will, however, continue to ensure windows are down when travelling with passengers and that all passengers wear face covering. 

Beaches, clubs and other attractions will remain closed until June 30 and bars will continue to operate with restrictions. 

Gatherings at weddings and funerals will remain restricted to no more than 15 people. The prime minister says he has given directive to the police commissioner for the police to strictly enforce the measure, especially at funerals in light of reports of mass funerals taking place. 

Reopening of borders and work from home

Holness confirmed  that the country's border will be reopened tomorrow to nationals, and to international travellers on June 15. Persons will undergo voluntary testing on arrival. 

As persons return to work tomorrow, the prime minister has placed the onus on employers to determine practical measures to manage the issue of physical distancing and other matters within the workplace. He said for the period June 1 to June 30, persons with underlying conditions may request to work from home on provision of a medical certificate. Persons who have no suitable arrangement in place for children, elderly or other persons with special needs within their care, may negotiate workable measures with their employers. 

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