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NCB customers queue outside of the bank's Half-Way Tree branch with markers on the ground indicating the space required for social distancing
Photo: Michael Sloley

Story Highlights

  • Several private sector companies are implementing the safeguards and health protocols announced by the Government to contain the outbreak and reduce transmission the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • This is evident at businesses and financial institutions where sanitising stations have been set up or personnel assigned to administer sanitising products; space demarcations for client queues, in keeping with the social distancing policy; and restrictions on the number of persons accommodated inside establishments to 10.
  • Several restaurants have instituted a ‘no dine-in’ policy which, in a number of instances, sees tables and chairs being stacked up or dining areas being cordoned off to prevent persons from using them.

Several private sector companies are implementing the safeguards and health protocols announced by the Government to contain the outbreak and reduce transmission the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This is evident at businesses and financial institutions where sanitising stations have been set up or personnel assigned to administer sanitising products; space demarcations for client queues, in keeping with the social distancing policy; and restrictions on the number of persons accommodated inside establishments to 10.

Several restaurants have instituted a ‘no dine-in’ policy which, in a number of instances, sees tables and chairs being stacked up or dining areas being cordoned off to prevent persons from using them.

Personnel have also been advising clients that only take-away orders are being accommodated, while establishments with drive-through service encourage customers with access to motor vehicles to utilise this provision.

Meanwhile, several banks, restaurants and supermarkets have been routinely sanitising areas and items frequently used by clients. These include: counters, doors, floors, windows, shopping carts, and automated teller machines (ATM).

Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF) President, David Wan, says, based on information received, member entities have been taking steps to comply with the measures.

Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) President, David Wan.

 

“We are getting feedback from many quarters of how they are dealing or plan to deal with these… from treating with sick leave to the work from home regulations, if persons contract the virus,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. Wan says this “demonstrates that, within our membership, persons are paying close attention to the guidelines from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.”

Additionally, he says information received indicates that “much of the other entities that we deal with are also taking the measures very seriously.”

“Every company that I am aware of is implementing new policies to deal with all of the changes. Some are, admittedly, more stringent while some are more generous with what they can or are prepared to do. But every company that I know of is trying to adjust… [and] is totally on-board with the measures,” he adds.

Other safeguards, which the Government has announced include: an island-wide curfew from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am for seven days beginning April 1; public sector workers, 65 years and older being directed to work from home, subject to specified exemptions, and senior citizens, aged 75 and over, being asked to remain at home, for an initial 14 days, as at March 25, also subject to exemptions.

Additionally, non-essential public sector employees are working from home for an additional 14 days, as at March 25; schools will remain closed until the end of the Easter break; and ports of entry have been closed to incoming travellers.

These are in addition to a $25 billion Government stimulus provision, which includes a $10 billion COVID-19 contingency allocation, to assist employees and entities likely to be impacted by the anticipated fallout, which has already begun in industries, such as tourism.

Meanwhile, as the number of locally confirmed COVID-19 cases increases, Mr. Wan urges ongoing steadfast adherence by citizens and organisations to the safeguards.

He says this is critical to curtailing further spread of the contagious disease and shorten the duration of the outbreak in Jamaica.

The number of confirmed cases was at 36 as at March 30, with 23 of the cases imported, 11 import-related, while two are under investigation.

Mr. Wan says that while the stimulus/contingency provision and closure of the ports of entry, among other interventions are “well thought-out” and welcome, “it is the personal behaviour of everyone… that is going to have a big impact on how long this crisis lasts.”

These, he says, include the stay at home stipulations, restriction on the number of persons in gatherings, along with frequent and thorough handwashing using soap and water and hand sanitising, as well as persons exercising caution in not exposing themselves to anyone suspected of or confirmed as being infected.

Equally imperative, the JEF President adds, is the need for infected persons to adhere to the self-quarantine health protocol, follow the stipulated procedures, and not expose themselves to uninfected individuals.

The latter, he emphasised, “will also be a crucially important factor in determining how deep this crisis does or doesn’t get.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Wan has commended the Government on doing a “credible job” in frequently communicating information to the public and keeping the nation up to date on COVID-19 developments.

“This, I believe, is helping to educate everyone about what to do to protect themselves. We are in uncharted territory; many of us have never been through a crisis like this. If we can keep that [adherence to the safeguards] going for a sustained period… I think it will help to flatten out the rate of growth of the virus,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) President, Hugh Johnson, says the measures, particularly the restrictions, are essential, as they will enable the Government “to better and more effectively deal with the issues and challenges at hand”.

Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) President, Hugh Johnson.

 

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