Thursday 28 May, 2020

Gov't now requires the wearing of masks by some persons

Between Wednesday, April 8 and Tuesday, April 21, certain categories of persons are required to wear a mask or other covering for the nose and mouth, especially when they are in public spaces.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement on Wednesday as he addressed a digital press conference from Jamaica House where he updated the country on the Government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 on the island.

“A mask is not necessarily the conventional paraphernalia that we are used to. It could be a scarf….but what we really want is the covering of the nose and the mouth,” Holness stressed.

He said persons who are ill with respiratory or flu-like symptoms including persons running a fever, those with a persistent cough or cold, or those sneezing persistently, should wear a mask.

The full list includes:

  1. Persons caring for someone at home with a flu-like or respiratory illness.
  2. Persons over the age of 65 years.
  3. Persons with co-morbidities. These include individuals with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and respiratory illnesses.

“During the period from April 8 to April 21, persons are strongly encouraged to wear a mask that is fitted to cover the nose and mouth while in public places,” the prime minister emphasised.

He said the covering should be worn by persons going to the market, the supermarket and those taking public transportation.

“So we have given strong recommendations, strong advice and we’ve codified those categories of persons who are highly at risk who must wear a mask,” Holness stated.

The Government had previously refrained from ordering the wearing of masks by the general public, in light of recommendations from the World Health Organisation that they did not necessarily provide protection for the general public.

However in the past week, several countries, including the United States, have adjusted their stance in light of data from several Asian countries which shows that the general wearing of masks in those countries has led to fewer cases of COVID-19.

“Absolutely, the Government has recommended the wearing of masks and, in fact, the government has gone even further, to place in an Order, the persons who are required to wear a mask,” said Holness.

“The objective is that, in public, you should cover your nose and mouth. A mask is a very convenient way of doing it because it is built in a particular way and some pre-made masks are built with materials that act as very good filters."

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