The 15-person limit on public gatherings will remain in place until Tuesday, October 6 as the Government continues its efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which is now in the community transmission phase.
This was announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who said the number of persons allowed to gather may be further reduced, “depending on how we assess the situation”.
“Some countries have put in place a gathering rule of six/10 persons, and they are very strict in the observance of the gathering rule. We are at 15 and we will maintain it for the next two weeks… and depending on how the numbers progress from the pandemic, we may very well reduce the gathering limits, which would have an impact on things like funerals and services,” he said.
The Prime Minister was addressing a digital press conference on Tuesday (September 22).
He further noted that based on evidence of the risks posed by the gathering of persons for funerals, parties and entertainment events, the prohibition on these will continue until October 6.
“We know that it is extremely difficult and painful to not be able to say goodbye to your loved ones at a funeral… . I am very sympathetic to the position, but I am also committed to ensuring that there is compliance with the rules as established,” the Prime Minister said.
He noted that burials will continue to be allowed, but with the strict observation and enforcement of the 15-person rule. The 15 include not more than 10 mourners with the additional five persons comprising the officiating clergy and funeral officials and those persons preparing the grave site.
Mr. Holness reminded, as well, that funeral processions are only allowed to include the hearse and the vehicles taking the officiating clergy and mourners.
In addition, he advised that normal church services operating in compliance with the established protocols will be allowed to continue, and reminded that gatherings in excess of 15 persons are not allowed outside the place of worship. He encouraged persons to leave the premises without congregating outside when the service ends.
“I have seen some churches that are not following the protocols, that I am still seeing huge numbers attending and we would encourage those churches to reacquaint themselves with the protocols and follow them faithfully,” he said.
The Prime Minister further noted that the measure implemented to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19 while commuting via public transportation will also continue until October 6. Under this measure, public transportation by motor car will continue to be limited to one person less than the maximum number of persons allowed to be carried under the relevant licence.
He implored operators of public passenger vehicles to always wear their masks whenever they are transporting passengers.
“I am not seeing… a very high level of compliance by taxi drivers in wearing masks. I do see their passengers wearing masks, but I am not seeing the taxi men [do the same]. When I do see them with masks, they have it under their chin. I know it’s difficult sometimes to breathe… but consider your life and the lives of the passengers that you are carrying,” he said.
The Prime Minister also encouraged all businesses to facilitate employees working from home if they are able to do so.