Wed | Jun 16, 2021

Gov't considers allowing some quick-service industries to open during curfew hours

Published:Monday | March 1, 2021 | 6:19 PM
Speaking yesterday at a media briefing to update the country on changes made to the Disaster Risk Management Act, Holness noted that businesses have found innovative ways to serve the public through the growth of the delivery economy. Prime Minister Andrew Holness (file photo)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced that a Cabinet sub-committee is working with the Private Sector Association of Jamaica (PSOJ) to develop a model through which the quick service industry may be able to operate during curfew hours.

Speaking yesterday at a media briefing to update the country on changes made to the Disaster Risk Management Act, Holness noted that businesses have found innovative ways to serve the public through the growth of the delivery economy.

This, he said, is evidenced by the emergence of several online malls and food delivery apps.

“I had a presentation from the PSOJ a few nights ago which showed how delivery could be done. So, we have a subcommittee of Cabinet looking at how we could implement it. We have agreed that we will test it in a geographical area, and as soon as those details are refined, we will bring that solution to the country.”

This, the Prime Minister also stated, is the Government’s attempt to keep production going during the curfew hours.

The Prime Minister said: “In doing a balancing act of controlling the spread of the virus and maintaining production, we recognise businesses in the quick service industry, such as restaurants, are finding it very difficult. I note that the restaurant industry does not only include established stores, but also small businesses like the pan chicken man on Red Hills road, in Liguanea and in Olympic Way, they are a part of that quick service industry”.

Holness noted that the quick service industry employs a significant number of Jamaicans and contributes to the income of many households.

He also added that with the curfew in place, the loss of income in the sector is significant.

Meanwhile, Holness underscored that the Government and the PSOJ are working to ensure that the agreed model is inclusive and open to all, including the pan chicken vendor.

“It is not beyond the Government to find solutions to the emergence of the delivery economy as businesses migrate online. The question for the Government is how we facilitate delivery during curfew hours. Many issues would have to be resolved, like the question of equity and how do we facilitate the pan chicken man.” 

In the meantime, the Government also plans to make some consideration for the sports industry.

Holness added: “We would like to see the resumption of sporting activities, but we would want to see it done safely. We observe that the various sporting associations are coming on board with plans, but now, it would be inconsistent with the challenges that we face if we were to approve. We will still consider them and work with them to ensure that we refine the arrangements, and as soon as we are out of this danger zone, we can start to look at how we can get the sporting sector back up and running”.

Holness also thanked the sporting sector for their patience as the Government works strategically to put measures in place to revamp the industry.

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