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Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF) President, David Wan.
Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson

Story Highlights

  • The Government’s decision to impose nightly islandwide curfews from April 1 to April 8 to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has received the support of business leaders.
  • The virus has, so far, claimed one life and infected 36 persons locally.
  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who announced the measure at Monday’s (March 30) virtual press conference, at Jamaica House, indicated that the curfews will be from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. daily for the duration of the curfew.

The Government’s decision to impose nightly islandwide curfews from April 1 to April 8 to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has received the support of business leaders.

The virus has, so far, claimed one life and infected 36 persons locally.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who announced the measure at Monday’s (March 30) virtual press conference, at Jamaica House, indicated that the curfews will be from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. daily for the duration of the curfew.

He advised that the movement of persons and public transportation will be restricted during the stipulated hours.

Medical personnel, individuals in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, and workers in the essential services will be facilitated beyond the hours of the curfews. However, they are required to produce valid identification to security personnel, upon request.

Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) President, David Wan, says the measure is “a good and welcome way to further reduce public interaction between persons, in the effort to contain the outbreak, without any significant resulting economic impact”.

“Between the period 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., there are much less persons working and much less economic activity. So, it’s basically a good way to attempt to slow down the COVID-19 curve… [and] I’m in support of it,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. Wan, who notes the limited choices at the Government’s disposal in terms of suitable measures to restrict public interaction, in keeping with the social distancing policy, points out that the curfew is, arguably, among “the least damaging of the options that [can be instituted]”.

“We have to try and strike the balance between maintaining a reasonable amount of economic activity and managing the outbreak of the virus,” he says.

He further argued that “the more severe the restrictions are upfront, the better off we are likely to be in terms of slowing the rate of infection”.

He reiterates the importance of persons adhering to personal hygiene habits to contain COVID-19 transmission.

These include thorough handwashing using water and soap, and utilising hand sanitising solutions.

“I think the Government is doing all the correct things right now. The rate of infection in Jamaica is certainly slower than most of our Latin American and Caribbean counterparts. So far, they have made the best of the [practical] choices and these have been working,” he adds.

Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) President, Hugh Johnson, also welcomes the imposition of the curfews, citing information surfacing that suggests “people are still congregating where they shouldn’t be”.

“I appreciate the measured way in which [the curfews are] being done, in terms of the time – from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. – to allow people to do some level of commerce during the day, even though curtailed. So, I think it’s a managed approach and I commend the Government on that,” he tells JIS News.

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

 

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President, Lloyd Distant Jr., says the organisation is equally supportive of the announced measure.

“Decisions that need to be taken, [must] be taken. As a responsible [group of] businesses and organisations, we [the JCC] shall adhere and we shall support the measure, and guide our members to adhere as well,” he adds.

Mr. Distant contends that imposing the curfews “is the right decision” based on the timing and the rationale, which he describes as “appropriate”.

“If you give people the opportunity to do the correct things voluntarily… once they do these, then you don’t need to take any further steps. If these are not being done voluntarily and people aren’t adhering, then you take the next more drastic step necessary,” he tells JIS News.

Meanwhile, Mr. Distant says he does not anticipate any significant dislocation within the business sector, in particular, consequent on the curfews.

“Most businesses, especially places like the supermarkets and pharmacies, which are the most essential at this time, would have been closed by 8:00 p.m., at any rate. So, it does not appear that the stipulated hours of the curfew will be inconvenient to most businesses,” he adds.

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President, Lloyd Distant Jr.

 

For his part, business and financial analyst, Warren McDonald, believes the Government has been proactive in instituting the curfew.

“When we see what is happening in the United States, Italy and other places, in relation to the rate of COVID-19 transmission, infection and deaths, I think we must be in favour of the Government’s decision,” he tells JIS News.

“We cannot wait until we have an upswing to take further action. We have to be ahead of the game… [and not] wait and try to catch up, in terms of containing transmission,” Mr. McDonald says.

He notes that the Government is doing a reasonably good job in staying ahead of the curve.

“We have a lot going right now, in relation to interventions, which is quite positive,” Mr. McDonald points out.

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