Govt's curfew order gets strong backing from western Jamaica

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Govt's curfew order gets strong backing from western Jamaica

BY HORACE HINES
AND ONOME SIDO
Observer writers

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Business lobby groups in western Jamaica are giving Government the thumbs up for the imposition of a curfew running from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am for the next seven days, as part of efforts to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The measure, which was announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness at a digital press briefing held at Jamaica House on Monday, takes effect today.

The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) recounts that the curfew is a measure that it had proposed.

“The partial shutdown/curfew is a necessary inconvenience... we support measures to flatten the curve and remain hopeful. We are aware that it is a delicate balancing act, so moves in increments are very important. It will give businesses time to prepare should there be an islandwide lockdown,” said Janet Silvera, president of the MBCCI.

“In fact, the chamber had called for the curfew as part of the initiative to get less persons hanging out and visiting each other after work etcetera — like it's business as usual.

“It was one of several things we wanted to be instituted, but we know we have to ease into this latest initiative in a smart way, and assess as we go along,” she said.

In fact, the MBCCI argues that the curfew hours should be extended by a minimal two hours.

“We believe it [curfew] will assist in preventing further spread of the virus by confining persons to their homes, albeit for a limited time. We feel the effective time could have been earlier, perhaps from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am,” Silvera said.

Delroy Christie, president of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce (TCC), also expressed the TCC's full support for the curfew.

“We were all expecting it [because] too many people in this country are too irresponsible, so the Government never had much option,” Christie said.

He, however, expressed concerns as to whether the members of the security forces will be sufficient to enforce the curfew.

“...But just how they are going to enforce it, because they don't have enough police to enforce it. That is really my concern because if they can't enforce it, it won't do what it is supposed to do,” Christie expressed.

Meanwhile, noting that “no one measure will fix it all”, Silvera suggested that “while the curfew will only assist, the Government will need to roll out the security forces to enforce other measures put in place to address day-time issues”.

“A complete lockdown without a plan to ensure persons have food supplies to maintain themselves is a disaster by itself. So the sooner we have a plan in place, the sooner we can support a lockdown,” Silvera argued.

Richard Wallace, president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, says the curfew is justified.

“We don't have a problem [with] it. We believe that it is justified, the Government has to do what it has to do, and based on the footage we have seen where persons are not practising social distance and quarantine, it is justified,” he argued.

And, speaking at an emergency meeting at the St James Municipal Corporation yesterday, Major Carl Clarke of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) said the JDF will provide additional resources in a bid to enforce the curfew.

“In terms of the new measures that are announced by the Government, in terms of the curfew, we are in dialogue with our JCF [Jamaica Constabulary Force] counterparts. We will be providing additional resources to ensure that the curfews are maintained throughout the time that has been stipulated, so we are here to assist, and that is what we continue to do,” he told the meeting.

Mayor of Montego Bay Homer Davis stressed the importance of maintaining the curfew.

“There is no doubt that this time our streets are being overcrowded and social distancing is not being maintained. We have to adapt to the changes if the curfew says 8:00 pm to 6:00 am, we must adhere to that and conform in all areas. It cannot be business as usual, and I urge everyone to be prepared for the new measures as this is bigger than any one man or one group... this is for the country,” he argued.


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