JAMAICANS will mark Labour Day under stricter curfew hours as the Government moves to mute the holiday’s customary activities amid the local spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Speaking at last evening’s virtual press conference from Jamaica House in St Andrew, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that for the Labour Day period, beginning on Sunday, May 24, the curfew will begin at 3:00 pm and end at 8:00 am the following day. It will again start at 3:00 pm on May 25 and end on Tuesday, May 26, at 5:00 am.
Labour Day will be celebrated on Monday, May 25.
Drawing on similar measures that were employed for the Easter weekend last month amid the emergence of the workplace cluster in St Catherine, Holness said that the move is necessary if the country is to avoid a crisis.
Jamaica has now recorded 505 confirmed cases, while COVID-19 related deaths remain at nine.
“We’re taking that similar approach. The Labour Day weekend would have been a period of time in which persons would have been taking the opportunity, probably some to go to beaches — which are closed — or to water parks or rivers, which are also closed, or to have parties, which are not permitted. So what we’re going to do, as we did for the Easter weekend, is to have a tighter curfew which would start on the Sunday before Labour Day [to Tuesday],” the prime minister stated.
The measures are expected to be relaxed Tuesday evening, with the curfew beginning at 9:00 pm and ending at 5:00 am the following day.
This will continue, Holness said, until May 31, when a new set of orders will be implemented.
Earlier, the prime minister announced that effective tomorrow the 12-hour curfew measures that were in place will be relaxed as new hours take effect from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am. This will continue daily until Sunday, May 24 when the Labour Day period begins.
“So, in effect, what we have done is to gradually loosen the curfew hours… So we’ve given an additional two hours to the close of the day and an additional hour at the beginning of the day,” said Holness.
“We’re giving businesses an opportunity to have more time. We have not specified business hours or travel hours in this new gazette that we are about to publish. So we expect that business owners will use their discretion in terms of their opening and closing hours to allow for their staff to be able to travel within the curfew period,” he continued.
Additionally, the prime minister said provisions have been made for licensed transport operators to be on the road an hour before and after curfew times to ensure the safe movement of people.
He said that as a result of the flattening of the curve, the Government believes that “some space” can be given to the economic activity.
“But that is always conditional. If we see where the numbers are trending other than where we want them to go then we will have to go back to even tighter measures. So I take the opportunity to say to Jamaicans that it is really in your hands. The Government stands ready to put in place the measures to ensure that our curve is flat and remains below the health [system’s] capacity.
“I started out by saying that we have 350 bed spaces available, inclusive of high-dependency units and ICU. We have 49 persons in hospitalisation at present. So we are doing everything to ensure that if there were to be a surge, a spike, an outbreak and people are in need of care that we would be able to treat them and it wouldn’t create a crisis. But that all depends on the rate of increase in new cases.
“So, if by us opening up a little bit more and relieving the curfew hours people decide that, instead of going straight home they’re going to do unnecessary things and do things that are not productive, not maintain the orders, and get ill and require treatment, and we see an explosion in cases and more people require treatment and we’re not able to provide it, that is what would create the crisis and we’re trying to avoid that,” the prime minister said.
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