Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Government will implement tighter measures for funerals if citizens continue to disregard the safety protocols for the staging of these events.
The current protocols stipulate that there should be no more than 50 persons at a funeral, depending on the square footage of the church, and no more than 15 persons at the burial site, of which no more than 10 can be mourners.
In addition, burials may only be conducted between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and should last no longer than 30 minutes.
Addressing a digital town hall hosted by the Ministry on Thursday (July 23), Mr. McKenzie said that many persons have been flouting the funeral protocols, which were put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“That is one area that is of real concern to us. We have seen a falling off in terms of persons observing those protocols. Burials have now become larger than the actual service in the church. We have advised the police and they have been moving around and have been taking action,” he noted.
“Again, we are saying to persons that these protocols are still in place and we are asking for persons to observe [them], because if the Government is forced to, then we will have to put tighter restrictions [in place for] funerals,” Mr. McKenzie warned.
He noted that the first cluster of COVID-19 cases on the island was related to an infected person attending a funeral.
For his part, Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Richard Thompson, is advising citizens to ensure that all protocols stipulated by the Government for various sectors are upheld “so we do not erode the progress that we have made over the last three months”.
“We would have been seeing what has been happening in other countries with the kind of devastation that this virus is having on the world. We have made a lot of gains in Jamaica in terms of the measures we have put in place to reduce the spread and contain COVID-19 and we must commend [the Government] for the work that has been done,” he said.
The town hall was held to update citizens about the COVID-19 prevention protocols being implemented as the Government gradually reopens the economy as well as address concerns citizens may have about the measures.