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Mandeville mayor: People took COVID warning lightly

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2021 | 12:15 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

With tighter curfew measures announced for Manchester, which is currently seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, Mandeville Mayor Donovan Mitchell feels vindicated after he was ridiculed when he warned that continued blatant disregard for protocols could result in such a move.

Yesterday, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton announced that the nightly curfew for Manchester would begin at 7 p.m., three hours earlier than for the rest of the island, with a simultaneous 5 a.m. ending.

As at Sunday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the central parish stood at 789 since last March, with 125 cases currently being active.

“When I made the announcement at council meeting and asked people to [comply], I was ridiculed ... ,” Mitchell, who heads the Manchester Municipal Corporation, said in response to the announcement. “I feel vindicated because people took it lightly. I was expecting that this would happen.”

He said that the current COVID-19 situation in the parish was worrisome and could worsen if people continue flouting regulations.

The mayor also chides party promoters, who continue to stage events in breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act, and some police officers who are reportedly turning a blind eye as club operators breach the limit for public gatherings.

Mitchell said that the latest trend was for party organisers to move events from the town to rural sections of the parish.

“I understand people are moving parties to areas of south Manchester because there is less policing in that area, and I am going to have a meeting with the police ... ,” he said.


While businesses that operate beyond 6 p.m. are expected to be most affected by the adjusted curfew hours, which will run until February 8, Manchester Chamber of Commerce President Kenisha Dwyer-Powell said they would just have to adjust as they have been doing since the outbreak.

“It is definitely going to be a strain, but of course, we do understand that health comes first because if people continue to be sick and the virus spreads, then it makes no sense,” she said.

She said that while she expects registered businesses to be compliant, there might be pushback from unregistered operators, urging consumers to be responsible and shun those seeking to conduct business within curfew hours.

Some vendors in the Mandeville town centre were disappointed with the new hours cutting into their peak sales period, but understood that health and safety trumped business.

“The fact that they have to have tighter curfew means that it is bad, and all we can do is take heed. People too stubborn, man, and won’t listen,” said one vendor.