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  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, is calling for all Jamaicans to accept and conform to the Government’s measures to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • He said that the onus is on individuals to do what is necessary in order to protect themselves and their families.
  • “This is not business as usual… . It cannot be for Government to regulate [only]. You have to buy in... . After COVID-19, we have to survive as a country. So we need to start practising some level of self-discipline,” he said.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, is calling for all Jamaicans to accept and conform to the Government’s measures to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

He said that the onus is on individuals to do what is necessary in order to protect themselves and their families.

“This is not business as usual… . It cannot be for Government to regulate [only]. You have to buy in… . After COVID-19, we have to survive as a country. So we need to start practising some level of self-discipline,” he said.

The Minister, who was speaking during a town hall on Tuesday (March 31), also appealed to vendors and patrons within the market districts across the island to adhere to the new stipulations, including the proper sanitisation practices.

“We are asking the vendors… and the shoppers… to try and practise as best as possible the requirements that [we] are asking of each and every one,” he said.

Key among the measures is social distancing, which is the deliberate act of putting space between oneself and others and is a strategy normally undertaken by public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease.

For COVID-19, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is recommending that persons stay at least one metre away from each other when they are out in public, especially when among persons who are coughing, sneezing or presenting flu-like symptoms. Maintaining this safe distance from others is intended to reduce the chances of persons coming into contact with an infected individual.

Social distancing is being encouraged along with regular washing of hands and sanitising.

Minister Mckenzie appealed for Jamaicans who use market facilities “to help us to help you, because at the end of the day, we will not compromise the [health of the] wider Jamaica to facilitate persons who are not prepared to [conform]”.

The Government has also limited gatherings to no more than 10 persons, which Minister McKenzie pointed out is more difficult to enforce within the market districts.

“It is a fact that you can’t put in the same regimen like in a supermarket where it is easier for you. One of the problems with our markets is that our markets are open, and because of the openness of the markets, it sort of creates much more strain,” he said.

For his part, Mayor of Kingston, Senator Councillor Delroy Williams, emphasised the need for persons to act responsibly at this time.

“We are doing our best to keep the markets open, we understand the value of the markets to the country, to the municipality… and we are doing our part. We are now asking you to be responsible; for the vendors to cooperate, for the patrons to cooperate and to practise the social distancing and use the wash stations that we have within the markets,” he said.

In the meantime, President of the Jamaica Vendors, Higglers and Markets Association, Dunstan Whittingham, recommended the utilisation of delivery services within the market districts that could be offered by taxi operators, in order to limit social interactions.

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