Chambers happy no-movement days cutFriday, September 17, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
The Westmoreland and Montego Bay chambers of commerce and industry have welcomed Government's decision to bring a halt to no-movement days on weekdays and the changes to curfew hours.
“I think it is a win-win, whereby persons will have more time to shop without trying to shop in three or four days, and persons will now be able to keep their full staff complement or close to it. So, certainly, more persons will have their jobs and will be able to take home a pay cheque,” said president of the Westmoreland Chamber Moses Chybar.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Wednesday announced that weekday curfew hours will run from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am the next day, on Saturdays the curfew begins at 6:00 pm, while Sundays and public holidays are no-movement days. This puts an end to the controversial Sunday to Tuesday no-movement days that had been in effect over the past four weeks. The new measures cover the period from September 18 to October 28.
Chybar noted that, while his members are longing for the day when things return to normal, they understand that there is currently the need for some level of control, because some members of the public are not as disciplined as they should be.
“I want to call out to all our citizens not to abuse the relaxing of the hours. We have more hours to operate. Treat it with respect and continue to observe all protocols,” he urged.
Last week, Chybar and his counterpart in Montego Bay, Janet Silvera, were vocal in their concerns about the effectiveness of weekday lockdowns, arguing that the crowding that resulted was defeating the aim of preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus and the measures were impacting economic activity.
Silvera hailed the changes announced on Wednesday, saying “good sense had prevailed”.
“Obviously… the prime minister heard the cries of not only the people who are merely shopping, going out each day about their business, but [also] the business community, which is the backbone of this country,” she said. “A lot of businesses have been suffering, and to go through another lockdown would have meant bankruptcy for many of them. They are just hanging by [a thread] right now and I don't know how long it is going to take them to come back up after this devastating blow, because that is what the lockdown has done for many businesses.”
There needs to be a balance, she said, in putting measures in place to bring down the COVID-19 positivity rate and hospitalisations, without “killing the goose that lay the golden egg”.
She welcomed the prime minister's promise to have greater consultation on the measures to be implemented in the future as the Government continues to find a way to balance the health of its citizens with the health of the economy. Silvera stressed, however, that these discussions should include players outside of the capital city.
“Let it happen right across the island. Let us all come together as a people and do this together, because every single one of us is hurting and we want to see Jamaica come out of this, but we need to be included in all these decision-making,” she urged.
“The consultative approach is definitely much preferred because those of us on the ground know and see things that the Government would not know,” he said. “A Government that listens will be more successful than one who doesn't. We welcome this declaration and sincerely hope it will be applied to other key areas also.”