Manufacturers support nightly curfew

Manufacturers support nightly curfew

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, April 02, 2020

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PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) Richard Pandohie says his organisation welcomes the seven-day curfew as a measure to help prevent rapid spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

He told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that he would not be surprised if even more stringent restrictions are ahead.

“The curfew and the further restriction were not a surprise; it was anticipated. In the context of the COVID-19 containment, it's a move that we support. We wouldn't be surprised if further restrictions are coming down the road,” he stated.

Pandohie noted the amendment to the Disaster Risk Management (enforcement measures) Order, to now include an exemption for factory workers, as defined in the Factories Act.

“It's the new normal. The factories that have to run 24 hours will have to run 24 hours. These major industries need to be running all the time,” he explained, pointing to the cement company and food production operations, for example.

“Those will continue to operate and if we have to redo the shift system and schedule the workers, we will. It's definitely going to incur more costs because it costs to shift people around and put the support structures in place for the staff, but right now that's just the price for doing business in the new norm that we just have to deal with,” he said.

Meanwhile, the JMEA head is assuring the country that food supplies will be adequate as suppliers across the industry will continue to produce.

“Services that are required for critical materials to be in the supply chain will continue. The ports will be open, we will be able to move stuff back and forth, we still have a country to run and we still have a country to maintain and food is a critical part of that. So we continue to hold the position that we will have adequate food supplies,” he emphasised.

An amendment to the order was gazetted Tuesday to give free passage to people engaged in the transportation of manufactured products, people employed to factories, and mayors and councillors of municipal corporations.

The measure started last night and will continue until April 8, starting at 8:00 pm each day and ending at 6:00 am the following day.

Other exempted categories include specified media personnel, parliamentarians and staff of the Houses of Parliament, the police, military, permanent secretaries, medical personnel, the JUTC, dock and wharf employees, among others, as outlined in the order.

Meanwhile, Pandohie said many factories have already begun to reduce their operations.

“Because demand is falling and business is declining, factories are either laying off and reducing hours as we speak,” he said.

The Government had advised the country to brace for a significant economic shock in the aftermath of the epidemic, even while it tries to maintain a balancing act of keeping the economy running and implementing restriction measures to guard public health.

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