Fri | Dec 3, 2021

Golding urges rethink of COVID-induced restrictions

Published:Wednesday | October 20, 2021 | 12:10 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer

As October 24 – the day when the set of COVID-19-induced restrictions now in place are set to expire – nears, People’s National Party (PNP) President Mark Golding questioned the logic of the current measures, including the nightly curfew and Sunday lockdowns.

Noting that the previous three-day weekly lockdowns were suffocating many low-income earners, Golding said he was pleased with the cut in the number of no-movement days from three to one in the last set of regulations announced.

However, Golding added that he was opposed to current rules which encourage “bundling of persons” and congestion, as curfew implementations “often lead to both transportation centres being congested in the lead-up to the shortened time frame that people have to get home before curfew”.

In a post-annual conference press briefing yesterday, Golding suggested that the measures be reviewed, recommending a stronger push to drive up compliance with mask-wearing and stricter monitoring of gathering limits, along with “common-sense messaging and conduct” by leaders in all sectors, including churches, to continue the efforts to lower COVID-19 transmission rates.

Golding urged the Government to consider introducing incentives for people of all ages – not just the elderly, for whom the Government has allocated grants of $10,000 to persons 60 years and older who take up jabs.

The opposition leader said that incentivising the vaccination programmes will “help people make up their mind in these very hard times.

“We believe that in the circumstances facing Jamaica now, ... that we need to be encouraging people rather than force them through punitive measures,” he said, adding that he has seen where the Government has begun to adopt this position.

The PNP also renewed its call for the Government to engage its members of parliament and other representatives in its vaccination campaign to encourage more Jamaicans to take COVID-19 jabs, charging that they were being sidelined with the effort being politicised.

Golding stated that since a September 1 letter of invitation was sent to him by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, saying that he would be included in the efforts, no further effort has been made to make contact with the PNP.

Golding said that the programme itinerary specifying dates, times and locations of the vaccination sites that would be visited by Holness, the Jamaica Labour Party leader, has also not been relayed.

“We haven’t been notified of them. We haven’t been given any schedule of them and our participation has been excluded and I think that’s the wrong approach on an issue like this,” said Golding, repeating claims he previously made on the weekend.

Neither Holness nor the JLP has responded to the claims.

Golding says that despite the delay, his team stands ready to participate in the drives if an offer is made, adding that it was key to show unity in the effort to woo a largely vaccine-hesitant population.

“We’re really in a war and we need all hands on deck,” said the PNP president. “Vaccination is absolutely essential and we ought to have a common position on it and I am prepared to be a part of that.”

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com