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  • The Minister was questioned by the media about the Government’s decision to allow community bars to reopen under with strict guidelines for a trial period, beginning Tuesday, May 19.
  • “Yes, there are risks with opening up and allowing persons to congregate. Yes, there are risks with persons who may go to bars or churches for that matter. The protocols accompanying those decisions are intended to mitigate those risks. That’s the first sort of check and balance in protecting [persons] or minimising the potential negative consequences of those decisions,” Dr. Tufton said.
  • Dr. Tufton said there will be random inspections, and should there be an outbreak that is identified with persons not complying with the protocols, then the Cabinet reserves the right to withdraw or to suspend the decision that has been taken.

The Government has emphasised that reopening of the economy is imperative, even as the country fights the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“At some point, we’re going to have to gradually move back to a place where persons can lead normal lives, even with COVID present in the population, and so it [reopening the economy] really is an attempt to start a process, and to manage that process with the protocols that have been introduced, so that we can overcome the risk, while at the same time giving Jamaicans the opportunity to function in their normal environment,” Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said during a digital press conference on Wednesday (May 13).

The Minister was questioned by the media about the Government’s decision to allow community bars to reopen under with strict guidelines for a trial period, beginning Tuesday, May 19.

Dr. Tufton said that allowing the reopening with a trial period poses risks regarding COVID-19; however, at some point in the future the economy has to reopen.

“Yes, there are risks with opening up and allowing persons to congregate. Yes, there are risks with persons who may go to bars or churches for that matter. The protocols accompanying those decisions are intended to mitigate those risks. That’s the first sort of check and balance in protecting [persons] or minimising the potential negative consequences of those decisions,” Dr. Tufton said.

“The other, however, is to pull back on some of those decisions, and I believe the Prime Minister was quite clear that this is a period of trial, if you will, probation, that persons are expected to comply,” he added.

Dr. Tufton said there will be random inspections, and should there be an outbreak that is identified with persons not complying with the protocols, then the Cabinet reserves the right to withdraw or to suspend the decision that has been taken.

“That is what happens in other jurisdictions also, so we are no different in taking these decisions, and we certainly wouldn’t be different if we were to pull back on those decisions if we recognise that there is a risk,” he said.

Jamaica now has 509 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with no new case in the last 24 hours. There are 118 persons who have recovered.

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