Manchester stakeholders welcome tighter restrictions to combat COVID

Manchester stakeholders welcome tighter restrictions to combat COVID

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — With cases of COVID-19 showing alarming increases here, key stakeholders have welcomed the tighter curfew measures and more restrictions on gatherings announced by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, yesterday.

Starting yesterday, and for a period of two weeks, ending Monday, February 8, the daily curfew will be from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am, with public gatherings reduced to a maximum of 10 people in the parish.

The restrictions are in response to an increase of 125 new COVID-19 cases between January 10 and 24 with the cases being spread across 30 Manchester communities.

Manchester police chief, Superintendent Gary Francis, told the Jamaica Observer: “...The Manchester police will be enforcing the law to its fullest. We are prepared and are supported by our colleagues in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). We will be enforcing the law to ensure that the objectives are met.”

Other stakeholders, including Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell; Member of Parliament for Manchester Central Rhoda Moy Crawford; president of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce Kenisha Dwyer-Powell; Custos of Manchester Garfield Green; and hotelier Peter Campbell all voiced their support for the new curfew arrangements.

Mitchell, who has been lobbying for greater public adherence to COVID-19 guidelines, said yesterday that he feels “vindicated”.

“... As far back as November, even at council meeting when I have been making my calls, people [on social media] had a lot of stuff to say [although] I was making my comments based on the feedback from a number of communities and events,” he told the Observer yesterday.

“This was long in coming and I think we must recognise now that we can't take the health of our families, friends and the community for granted because whatever is done it affects everybody and I am hoping that, based on this, we will get to understand that if we don't follow the protocols we are going to be ending up in a situation like St Catherine where they had a lockdown of the parish,” Mitchell added.

“Let's flatten the curve; once that is done and everything is under control, then we will be able to go back to our normal lives… The warning was there, and we were telling the people that they need to follow the protocols,” he said.

He reiterated recent comments warning against breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) motivated by the desire for money.

Crawford, meanwhile, welcomed the tighter measures, noting that “COVID is no respecter of parish, person, no boundaries or borders. In terms of Jamaica, it is no respecter of parish or constituency, and the reality is if we fail to comply with the protocols then there will be spikes,” she said.

“From my observation, moving around the constituency, it is very disappointing and heartbreaking, to say the least. People refuse to wear masks. People refuse to adhere to the gathering limits, and there is not much social distancing… It is pretty much business as usual, for the most part,” she added.

Dwyer-Powell said the longer curfew hours will mean adjustments for businesses.

“We do understand the need to have the longer curfew hours to ensure that we can get the health statistics down, because the figures are trending for the parish… It will be an adjustment for business people coming off the heels of the [Christmas] period and since the beginning of the pandemic, and we are just starting to come back to a bit of normalcy, in terms of plans,” said Dwyer-Powell.

Campbell, who is managing director of the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, said everyone has a part to play in adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.

“When all is said and done people come first, so any measure that is going to protect people, I'm in support of that,” he said.

“The kind of indiscipline that has been plaguing our society… has now propelled us into this position. If it is that people were following the guideline and taking COVID as seriously as it should be, we would not be here. Everybody has a part to play, be it business owners or just a citizen; if we all take our roles seriously and adhere to the laws of the land, we would be fine,” Campbell said.

“Failure to do that will result in more economic loss and loss of life,” he added.

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