JIS News

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, is expected to make a statement in Parliament on Wednesday (July 1) outlining measures relating to the opening of beaches and rivers.

Speaking at a virtual media briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister on Monday (June 29), Mr. McKenzie informed that visitors to beaches and rivers were not adhering to the safety protocols being implemented by the Government to minimise the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

He said an on-the-ground assessment over the weekend showed that of the facilities surveyed, there was a 91 per cent non-compliance rate.

These protocols include physical distancing of six feet, the wearing of masks, and ensuring that no more than 10 persons at any time gather in one area of these public facilities.

In addition, operators are not allowed to provide any form of seating, though persons visiting the beach can take their personal chairs.

Also, no seating is to be provided for dining, and vendors are not permitted to walk the properties with items for sale.

Sports, such as football, volleyball and dominoes, and the holding of parties, are not allowed at the venues.

“There has to be a certain level of responsibility that is brought to the table by Jamaicans. We understand the importance of going to the beach and to rivers, to exercise and to have some level of freedom, but we have to do this in a controlled fashion, and what we are seeing is a level of indiscipline,” Minister McKenzie said.

He commended those operators who are adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“I want to make a final appeal so that on Wednesday when I address the matter fulsomely in the Parliament, I will be in a better mood… to advise of the steps that will be taken,” he said.

The safety protocols were put in place in tandem with the conditional resumption of general access to public beaches and rivers on June 7.

The reopening was for an initial period of 14 days, and was extended to June 30.

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