MoBay Chamber, JHTA kick off mask campaign
With a noticeable indifference towards mask-wearing to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the Second City, the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) kicked off their #MaskMoBay initiative yesterday to drive awareness and boost compliance as coronavirus cases rise across the island.
The effort yesterday saw representatives from both organisations visiting locations such as sections of St James Street, including Sam Sharpe Square, handing out 750 masks and several COVID-19 information pamphlets while also supplying businesses with boxes of masks for customers.
Denise Groves, a vendor who conducts business near the Montego Bay Cultural Centre in Sam Sharpe Square, was one of the persons seemingly not keen on wearing a mask, citing breathing issues.
“I do not wear the mask because I have sinus and the mask is stifling me,” Groves told The Gleaner. “When I go into the supermarket, I put it on, but I have to catch my breath, and when my sinus is on me, I cannot keep it on.”
However, by contrast, Hyacinth Duncan, who sells masks and other items along the busy thoroughfare, was grateful for the MBCCI’s mask-promotion drive, saying that it further emphasises the point she has been making in promoting COVID-19 awareness.
“I appreciate this move, and I give thanks for it. I have the masks selling, and I have sprays (sanitisers) as well, and I tell my customers to wear their masks,” Duncan explained.
Up to Tuesday, St James had recorded 2,672 COVID-19 cases out of Jamaica’s total of 24,103 cases. St James remains the geographic region with the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases, behind Kingston and St Andrew’s 6,900 cases and St Catherine’s 4,627.
MBCCI President Janet Silvera told The Gleaner that the education campaign is especially needed at this time, with the growing shortage of bed spaces for COVID-19 patients, including at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH).
“Montego Bay needs #MaskMoBay now more than any other time,” explained Silvera. “With the numbers of COVID-19 cases constantly going up and the absence of bed spaces in the public hospitals, in particular at our own CRH, it means that we will have to be proactive.
“We cannot give up on those who have decided not to wear masks or observe the protocols. We have to continue to remind them of the importance of mask-wearing, and, ideally, let them know how serious and severe it is if we do not do something about COVID-19 at this time,” added Silvera.