Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has announced that political motorcades have been prohibited in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“This is to say, motorcades with more than two buses, which we call Coaster buses; motorcades that are stopping and greeting; motorcades that are carrying persons by bus, that will be prohibited,” Prime Minister Holness said at a digital press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister on August 21.
Mr. Holness pointed out that the Opposition and the Police have been notified of the prohibition.
This is among new measures being implemented as part of the Government’s ongoing COVID-19 management and response mechanism.
To enable political parties and their candidates for the September 3 General Election to continue campaign activities in communities, the Prime Minister noted that community drive-throughs will be permitted.
“We will allow drive-throughs, meaning that the political party should present a route to the police commander in charge of the respective areas they intend to tour and they can drive through but not stop and greet. It would be merely driving through displaying their signs, banners, paraphernalia, but there will be no stopping and greeting, so there should be no gathering at any point,” he said.
Mr. Holness said the Police will be monitoring the new campaign restrictions, and the drive-throughs could also be banned if persons do not observe the rules governing that form of campaigning.
“We will ask the Police to observe and report on this activity, and if the report is one that suggests that it is not being followed, then we will have to ban all such campaign activities,” he added.
The Prime Minister said that a further decision on drive-through campaigning will be made on Monday, August 24.
Against the background of new curfew hours for the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, Clarendon and St. Catherine announced by the Prime Minister, Mr. Holness said the necessary exemptions will be made for indoor meeting of political parties for organising purposes that may go beyond the curfew hours. He added, however, that those meetings should fall within the established protocols governing gatherings.
“Those meetings must fall within the gathering rules – no more than 20 persons. We will ask that they not be outdoor meetings, that they be kept in a controlled, closed environment and that,, essentially these are small meetings for organising, not for campaigning,” he said.
Effective Saturday, August 22 to Wednesday, September 2, Kingston and St. Andrew, Clarendon and St. Catherine will have new curfew hours of 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily.
The Prime Minister reminded that groups of no more than five persons should be allowed to carry out house-to-house campaigning or distribution of materials.
“We will still allow five persons, as was the agreement between the political parties. On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and with the oversight of the [Political] Ombudsman, five persons may go house to house, door to door, whether it is for campaigning, distribution of materials, but there can be no large groups other than five persons doing [that kind of] campaigning,” he emphasised.