'It nuh pretty'
Jamaicans give mixed reactions to extension of COVID-19 lockdownFriday, September 03, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
SOME Jamaicans yesterday said they expected an extension of the no-movement days due to the surge in COVID-19 cases but argued that the Government should implement new initiatives to assist the needy.
A produce vendor at the Half-Way-Tree/Papine taxi stand in St Andrew, who gave his name only as Neil, said lockdowns are challenging, especially since he still has not earned enough money to purchase his children's back-to-school supplies.
“Fi tell you the truth, it nuh pretty. It nuh make sense. Mi have the things pon mi farm and ah siddung and look. That's where I get my income from. It is very small, but I have to take it as is, and right now mi have my daughter and son book fi buy and mi nuh see the money,” he said, noting that he takes food from his farm in Portland to sell at the taxi stand once per week.
He said, too, that potential buyers have been requesting credit.
“Right now people a bawl fi food. It nuh worth it. Right now mi deh here and the people dem a come but dem cyaan even buy nothing. Some all tell me fi 'trust' dem till next week but mi nuh know dem. Mi affi earn mi money fi buy gas and take care a my youths 'cause me cyaan tief,” he said.
Kirk, a taxi operator who was seen at the stand, said while he supports more lockdowns, he is concerned about other small business operators.
“I have been watching the COVID-19 numbers and they were not really going down. Is really an opportunity fi mi stay a mi yard and get some rest, so mi nuh have a problem with it. For some people, their jobs might not give them much money so them cyaan manage. My hustling is hand to mouth too, but mi can still find my way out,” he said.
A 30-year-old security guard at Tropical Plaza in Half-Way-Tree, who gave his name as Johnson, argued that the extended measures were a bit harsh.
“I expected more lockdowns because the COVID-19 cases going up but it a impact mi wicked,” he said. “Yuh a go lock mi down and at the same time yuh nah give wi nothing fi help. Remember, food price a go up, taxi fare a go up, and gas a go up. Only wi pay nah go up. It affecting us from all angles,” he said.
He suggested that the Government explore other alternatives.
“This lockdown thing not working, so try a different strategy. You have to put other measures in place to help us out, like provide food and money, you cyaan just a lock wi down suh and you don't know how we surviving,” Johnson continued.
A shopper who requested anonymity agreed. She said that, due to a lack of job opportunities amid the pandemic, there are many families who are unable to earn an income to purchase food.
“There's no work and him [Holness] must provide food for the people them since him a lock down the place. You can't just lock down the place suh and nah provide. He must do something for the poor. So many people in need,” she said.
At the same time, another shopper, 41-year-old Adelie Tomlinson, rejected the weekday confinement and said she would prefer weekend lockdowns, as a lot of people attend parties during that period.
“I knew this was coming, but to be honest with you, it makes no sense because when the prime minister locks down the country for three days, on Wednesdays everybody crowding up same way to do their businesses. When I don't work I don't get pay, I am losing,” she said, noting that she is a housekeeper.
A freelance photographer who gave his name as Currie, said: “I am a survivor. Four boys mi get pon Earth; the youngest is 31 and a dem mi a live off of. They don't even want me to come out here, but mi still come look my own, even though nutten nah gwaan. Mi cyaan manage the yard.”
Up to Wednesday, the island had recorded 69,054 cases of the virus with 1,568 deaths since the first case was reported in March last year. There are now 18,554 active cases.
In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced a continuation of the no-movement days staring this Sunday, September 5 to Tuesday, September 7, then from September 12 to September 14. The daily curfews will be in effect from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am Mondays to Fridays and begin at 6:00 pm on Saturdays.