Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says tighter restrictions will be re-imposed if a spike in confirmed local Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases reoccurs, subsequent to further relaxation of the existing preventative measures, beginning Monday (June 1).
Noting that the number of cases totaled 586 as at Sunday (May 31), Mr. Holness emphasized that “we must continue to protect lives while securing our livelihoods”.
“As of [June 1], we are moving towards a broader opening of our economy. I cannot over-emphasize that we need to do this in a safe way. Our response to the pandemic will continue to be measured, proportionate, evidence-based and situationally appropriate,” he underscored during a digital press conference at Office of the Prime Minister Media Centre on Sunday (May 31).
Mr. Holness advised that Jamaica is now approaching the 20-day doubling curve of COVID-19 cases, with further slowing anticipated.
“It is encouraging that our doubling rate has slowed and the curve is flattening. This has bought us time, as we have had a smaller fraction of our population infected and, therefore, our health care system has not been overwhelmed,” he noted.
In this regard, the Prime Minister emphasized that: “We must maintain the measures that we have in place and continue to act responsibly in order to continue to have a flatter curve”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Holness said it is imperative that further steps be taken towards the full reopening of the economy, as will be the case beginning June 1.
He noted that the Jamaican economy, like most countries globally, has suffered a severe setback as a result of the pandemic.
“The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) recently reported an [estimated] decline of 1.7 per cent in real gross domestic product [GDP] for [the] quarter ending March 2020, and has projected a decline of 12 to 14 per cent for the April to June quarter and four to six per cent for the fiscal year 2020/21 overall,” he informed.
Mr. Holness said this represents the most significant economic decline Jamaica has recorded in over four decades and, as such, it is key that the full resumption of economic activities be facilitated.
In the meantime, Mr. Holness outlined the hours of the nightly curfews for the period between June 1 and 30.
“The [existing timeline for the] night to early morning curfews will continue, starting 9:00 p.m. tonight (May 31) to 5:00 a.m. tomorrow (June 1) morning, [and run] day-to-day until 5:00 a.m. June 14, 2020,” he indicated.
Mr. Holness further advised that come June 14, the curfew will be adjusted to run from 10:00 p.m. through to 5:00 a.m. the following day, with the new timeline expiring at until 5:00 a.m. on June 30.