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Portmore mayor pleads for churches and bars

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2020 | 9:16 AMChristopher Serju/ Gleaner Writer
Portmore Mayor Leon Thomas.
Portmore Mayor Leon Thomas.

Mayor of Portmore Leon Thomas wants Prime Minister Andrew Holness to ease the restrictions on public gatherings to allow an increase in the number of supporters of churches and other places of worship to meet and channel the power of their collective prayers and fasting into a spiritual weapon against the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Thomas pointed to the fact that the large buildings which house Portmore churches are spacious enough to adequately house 30 persons at a time with ease, hence his request.

“I am calling on the prime minister to allow the churches to have services. Please, nothing beats prayer. You must allow the prayer to go out there, and fast and pray to get rid of this deadly virus that has come up against up,” he appealed.

In the same breath, Mayor Thomas also wants Prime Minister Holness to consider the plight of owners/operators of bars and other places of entertainment across the island, most of whom are poised to lose millions of dollars from the spoilage of goods which are now nearing, if they have not already passed, their expiration dates.

CLOSURE OF BARS

He also questioned the continued closure of bars, in light of the decision to allow barber shops, hairdressing parlours and nail salons to reopen, given the close-contact service they offer.

“If you are shaving somebody, washing their hair, given them facial, doing a pedicure or manicure, how far away can you stay and do that?” he asked.

“In a bar, most people order a drink, have it, and then leave. Even when they stay to drink, they usually pick up the bottle or glass from the counter which is between them and the bartender, so I don’t understand why they should be treated differently. In a bar, there might be as much as seven persons drinking at any time, but hardly ever more than 10. So that’s why I am saying, Mr Prime Minister please reconsider opening the bars.”

Mayor Thomas explained that the Portmore Municipal Council has not been insulated from the economic fallout, with no revenue from permits issued for parties, stage shows and other entertainment activities.

“Building fees have also been reduced significantly, property tax collection has also fallen, and it is very hard for us to enforce any form of collection at this time, because a lot of people have lost their jobs or have been laid off,” he admitted.