Tue | Nov 28, 2023

Class war rebuke!

PM tweaks lockdown measures, knocks peddlers of misleading information

Published:Wednesday | April 14, 2021 | 5:47 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness addresses Parliament on Thursday, March 18. Holness railed against unnamed persons for peddling misinformation.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness addresses Parliament on Thursday, March 18. Holness railed against unnamed persons for peddling misinformation.

For the next three weekends ending May 4, partial lockdowns will be implemented with curfews beginning at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays to 5 a.m. on Mondays.

In a statement to Parliament to announce the new measures, Prime Minister Andrew Holness hit back at his detractors and those whom he claimed were seeking to stir up divisions in society.

“For those people who are pushing in all forms of media a class war, a social war, an anti-vaccination war … if you get ill, go to them and ask them to pay your doctor bill. You can’t find any of them – they push their ideas in anonymity,” he said.

The upcoming measures have been tweaked when compared with the last three weekend lockdowns which Prime Minister Andrew Holness reported had been successful in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

However, despite an ease in the rate of spread of the virus, test positivity and hospitalisation rates remain high, the prime minister noted.

Opposition Leader Mark Golding argued that there were lingering questions on whether the Government’s strategy was effective.

Dr Morais Guy, the opposition spokesman on health, also raised concern about an increase in the number of persons who have died from COVID-19 when compared with previous weeks.

“The positivity rate is decreasing, yet the death rate is increasing – something is not right,” he observed.

Meanwhile, without naming anyone or particular group, the prime minister charged that “persons who have a microphone in front of them, some who are very influential and should know better,” were peddling ideas that, he said, could mislead unsuspecting persons.

While making it clear that the Government would not attempt to prevent freedom of expression, Holness castigated persons on various media platforms, including social media, for misleading the poor and those who might not have access to full information.

“I am not afraid to speak the truth, even if it is uncomfortable to some, because I, too, have a microphone in front of me,” a spirited Holness declared.

“If anyone believes that by dint of the loudness of their voice or their popularity that they are going to shut up this prime minister from telling the truth about what we need to do, think again,” he said to applause from the government benches.

However, Golding signalled that the dissent of which the prime minister commented on might have arisen, in part, because of the effect the lockdowns were having on ordinary Jamaicans who hustle daily to eat bread.

He argued that the way in which the lockdown measures impact different sectors of the society and various communities was not the same across the board.

Golding said the lockdowns had a negative impact on those who eke out a living daily, noting that if a policy of lockdowns was being used to manage the pandemic, “we must put the resources in place to allow those people to survive”.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said that the 75,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from the Africa Medical Supplies Platform, which had an April 13 expiry date, had all been administered.

Holness called on countries stockpiling vaccines that they were not using to make them available to countries like Jamaica.


Measures under the DRMA

• Travel ban to UK will continue to April 30. No renewal of the ban after that date.

• Ban for countries in South America extends to May 4.

• Work-from-home for public-sector workers extended to May 4.

• Increase in the maximum number of persons in church to 30, effective April 14.

• Weddings – cap remains at 15.

• No face-to-face instruction in schools until May 4.

• All other measures remain largely unchanged