Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has informed that Cabinet has proposed amending the Disaster Risk Management Act to limit gatherings to 15 persons in private and public places.
Speaking in the House of Representatives on November 24, Mr. Holness said the measure will be for December 2020 to mid-January 2021 to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We are proposing that under the Disaster Risk Management Act, we will make an amendment to say that all gatherings, whether in public or private places, should be no more than 15 persons,” the Prime Minister said.
“It is a very important distinction. In the current Order, it speaks to public places, but for the Christmas period, where we are anticipating that there will likely be gatherings, not only in public but in private places, we may very well have to make this adjustment for that period,” he added.
The sitting of the House of Representatives was held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
The Prime Minister said consultations were held with the church group umbrella body, a broad cross section of private-sector interests and Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Holness said reports by international health bodies, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), indicate that many of the ‘super spread’ events are private ones.
“Weddings, parties, funerals, receptions, these are now emerging as the spreading events and we have to be very careful. We are seeing what has happened in other jurisdictions as a result of Thanksgiving activities where families are gathered together and then of course the virus is spread through those gatherings. So, we have to be very cautious and very careful,” he said.
“We will also be clear with the Security Forces to ensure that when it is actually being enforced it is done in a way that is sensitive to people’s privacy and their property rights,” Mr. Holness added.
The Prime Minister appealed to Jamaicans to be responsible in the way Christmas is celebrated this year.
“It should not be about large gatherings of family and friends but rather we should celebrate with our immediate family, with our immediate household and try to maintain 15 or less,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister further disclosed that the prohibition on parties and events will also remain in place for the Christmas period.
“We must remain diligent in our adherence to the infection, prevention and control measures and not jeopardise our recovery prospects in 2021. Our measures for the month of December must, therefore, be realistic, but they must also be strategic,” he said.
Mr. Holness said the Christmas period is considered “high risk”, as there will be higher levels of travel both internally and from overseas.
“We must take measures now to continue our measured evidence-based… management approach to the pandemic,” he added.