Don't lock it down
Key players in Westmoreland appeal to Gov't ahead of Tuesday's announcementSaturday, July 24, 2021
BY KIMBERLEY PEDDIE
NEGRIL, Westmoreland – Key players in this parish are adamant that the Government should not entertain the thought of another lockdown.
Hanover and Westmoreland account for the bulk of the novel coronavirus cases making up the latest spike that has the Government mulling over its next move.
“We don't want to go back to the lockdowns and early closures because that's gonna affect businesses,” President of the Negril Chamber of Commerce Richard Wallace told the Jamaica Observer.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the nation on Wednesday that a decision will be taken after this weekend's meeting of the Cabinet's COVID-19 subcommittee. He is expected to outline the way forward on Tuesday.
In reacting to the prime minister's comments, Wallace pointed out that members of the business community, who have been left reeling from the effects of measures put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, had only recently got a reprieve. He is afraid of the impact that a return to early closures or a complete lockdown would have on their operations.
On a per capita basis, the virus is spreading two to three times quicker in Hanover and Westmoreland than in Kingston and St Andrew. Western parishes, in general, are showing a greater level of spread.
Wallace blamed this on a growing level of complacency, coupled with low vaccination levels.
“Jamaicans seem to think that this pandemic is over. [The] majority of the people are operating near to normal,” he said.
President of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce Moses Chybar also said complacency is an issue in his parish. He is hoping there will not be a lockdown but conceded that measures must be implemented to address the recent uptick. “People are too relaxed, [they] need to continue to wear masks,” he urged. “And there are a lot of parties being held day [and] night.”
However, Superintendent of Police for Westmoreland Robert Gordon dismissed claims of illegal parties being held regularly. It was evident, he said, that general safety protocols were not being observed in many cases.
For his part, president of the Negril Entertainment Association Ryan Morrison said t is time for Jamaicans to learn to live with the virus. He is also adamantly opposed to a return to the days when the country was on lockdown.
“... The Government should be talking about economic stimulus and the sustainability of people's livelihood,” he said. “Lockdown comes with a cost. [The entertainment sector has] been bearing the cost for a long time.”
According to health officials, since March 20, 2021, during which Jamaica peaked at 15,944 new cases, the number of new cases of the novel coronavirus has been decreasing month on month. In April, the country saw 6,234 new cases; 2,817 new cases in May; 1,572 new cases in June; and 1,238 new cases so far this month.
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