Ahead of the expiration of existing COVID-19 containment measures, Prime Minister Andrew Holness is maintaining that, contrary to the ongoing demands of various interest groups throughout the island, his administration will not be introducing any new COVID-19 protocols.
Addressing the House of Representatives earlier this afternoon (January 25), Holness stood firm on first previously stated declaration that, as the country looks to a controlled return to normalcy, tighter containment measures such as lockdowns will no longer be utilised.
“We have said this months ago but it would appear that persons were not listening or did not understand or did not care to understand, but the Government, in managing our strategies … planned well in advance, and so there was no need to examine new measures,” Holness said.
“We had already explained to the country that we would not go back to lockdowns… that argument done … . We not going back to that, we want to give the business people, the small enterprises, the average Jamaican, we want to give them certainty that we can emerge out of this pandemic… .”
In light of this, Holness noted that Cabinet, on the advice of personnel from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, voted to extend the existing COVID-19 measures until February 11.
According to the prime minister, “all the measures, the curfew, the restrictions on gatherings, the requirements to wear masks, particularly indoors, to maintain physical distance, all remain in place.
“We have not, however, tightened measures as we know that would’ve had a significant adverse impact on our economy, and the livelihood of Jamaicans who are already struggling… .”
Curfew, other measures unchanged
The islandwide curfew hours will therefore remain in place, commencing at 10:00 p.m. nightly and ending at 5:00 a.m. each morning.
All other measures, including the prohibition on parties and events, the public gathering limit of 15 persons as well as measures relating to travel, burials and weddings are unchanged and remain in effect until February 11.
While not negating the possibility that the country’s COVID-19 situation over the next two weeks could spell danger and require the Government’s implementation of stricter measures, Holness argued: “Let it be clear that the Jamaican society, the Jamaican economy and the Jamaican people must start to cast their eyes forward out of the pandemic.”