The islandwide curfew hours of 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily will remain in place until Tuesday (March 23), as the Government continues to revise measures to control the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
This was announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who said the curfew hours are being maintained in order to restrict the unnecessary movement of persons outside of normal productivity hours.
Mr. Holness, who was addressing a virtual press conference from the Office of the Prime Minister Media Centre on Sunday (February 28), pointed out that since most workplaces and businesses operate in the daytime, “you would want to sparingly use any measure that controls movement in that period of time”.
“I’ve heard the common logic being expressed that the use of the curfew suggests that COVID only infects at night. It is a common logic, but it is not common sense. The truth of the matter is that we are trying to control movement on one hand, and on the other hand, we are trying to keep production going as much as possible,” he said.
“Instead, you would use other measures such as institutional measures how businesses can operate and we use situational measures [such as] wearing your mask, social distancing. But in the night, when the general production activities are less, that is when you would seek now to apply your movement measures, mainly your curfew,” he explained.
The Prime Minister noted, however, that there are some businesses that continue to operate during curfew hours, such as the quick service/restaurant industry, which not only speaks to “brand name” stores but also “the pan chicken man on Red Hills Road or in Liguanea or wherever else they may be”.
“We are very concerned because that industry employs a significant number of Jamaicans. It contributes to the income of many households, so we know that the curfew hours are greatly impacting that industry,” he said.
As such, Mr. Holness noted that the Government is working to devise delivery solutions that will enable the quick service industry to continue to operate for longer hours within the curfew period.
“We are studying that now in detail. We have asked the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) to assist. I had a presentation from them a few nights ago, which showed how it could be done. So, we have a subcommittee of Cabinet now looking at how we can actually implement. We have agreed that we will test it first in a geographical area,” Mr. Holness informed.
“We will still maintain the curfews, as they are needed, but we would find a way through the delivery economy to ensure that production can still happen, and business can still happen during the curfew hours,” he added.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister informed that zoos, parks, gyms, attractions and bars will close at 6:00 p.m. from March 1 until March 22.
“We have said to the police that there must be strict enforcement of this 6:00 p.m. closing time,” he emphasised.