More restrictive COVID-19 protocols coming as cases spike - Holness
Jamaicans should brace for tightened COVID-19 protocols in coming days as the Holness administration responds to the rising number of coronavirus cases and repeated breaches of the restrictions that are in place to limit the spread of the virus on the island.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness gave the warning while addressing a COVID-19 press conference from Jamaica House as the country celebrated its 58th anniversary of Independence on Thursday.
He said the government was no longer prepared to continue using moral suasion and warned that “if you can’t hear you will feel”.
The warning came as the prime minister announced 30 new cases of COVID-19, four of which were part of the backlog of cases that is still being cleared. The number of confirmed cases in Jamaica is now up to 958 with 12 deaths.
Already the police have been instructed to get tougher with persons who are found in breach of the protocols and orders. Holness announced that one visitor to the island was arrested and charged for flouting the law.
With two churches in Clarendon and St Thomas at the centre of outbreaks in the two parishes, Holness said places of worship will not be allowed to have conventions and the measures surrounding their operations have been re-examined and could be tightened. He also signalled that more restrictive measures are coming for the entertainment industry, how funerals are conducted and for the operation of beaches and rivers.
A Loop News team observed a large crowd at the popular Hellshire beach in St Catherine breaching just about every COVID-19 protocol on Thursday.
And the prime minister pointed out that some persons were visiting Jamaica for the sole purpose of attending funerals with some of them infecting other attendees with the virus.
He said there will also be increased surveillance of persons who are supposed to be in home quarantine but who are out and about during the mandated 14-day quarantine period. He stressed that all persons returning home must quarantine.
“I think we are at the limit in moral suasion. We will now have to move into another phase of managing the pandemic. We have sought to address it by appealing to the good conscience and reasonableness of our citizens, [but] we have some weak fences — some people who it would appear they would do everything possible not to observe the recommendations of authorised sources,” Holness said.
The prime minister was adamant that the protocols must be obeyed as there was no consideration being given to closing the country’s borders once more. To do so would only serve to lengthen the recession, Holness said.
The more restrictive measures will be made public next week following consultations with stakeholders.