Mixed reactions to new COVID measuresTuesday, July 27, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
LUCEA, Hanover — Hanover's entertainment, business and education sectors gave mixed responses to Prime Minister Andrew Holness's announcement of tighter COVID-19 measures which take effect today.
Meanwhile, one minister of religion has criticised Holness for opening up the country too soon, leading to the current spike in numbers.
“It is definitely going to affect business, especially the smaller and [informal] businesses that will have to shorten their hours, have less staff working, etc,” said Negril Chamber of Commerce President Richard Wallace.
The new curfew hours are Mondays to Saturdays from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am and 3:00 pm to 5:00 am on Sundays and public holidays.
“It is going to affect the local economy more than the hotels because, as you know, once they have a guest inside the hotel the curfew really doesn't affect them. They can enjoy the facility of the hotel up to any time they so desire,” added Wallace, who is also chief executive officer of Negril's Boardwalk Resort and Shopping Village. He noted that the entertainment industry is set to feel the pinch the hardest.
“They have been waiting so long and just got a reprieve recently, and now this is happening. But, as a country, we have to blame ourselves as well, because it is because of our own actions as a country why we are getting this third wave. We are not abiding by the protocols as we should, and getting vaccinated as we should,” added Wallace.
The maximum number of people allowed for small events has been reduced from 70 per cent of capacity to 50 per cent, or 100 people in total. This includes gatherings such as at parties and church services.
Reverend Revern Grant told the Jamaica Observer that he blames the prime minister for the current state of affairs and he expects more trouble ahead. He said his fellow men of the cloth, members of the business and entertainment sector, who had been critical of previous stricter measures, may have been focusing on financial and not physical well-being.
“I believe that they were looking at it from a personal point of view. They were maybe losing income and they were not looking at the health part of it. The same persons who they want to come out to work or come out to church are the same persons who are going to get sick,” he said. “And so, this [tightening of measures] is [the] action the prime minister has to take. With this action, people are going to scream again. I blame the prime minister for beginning to open up [a few weeks ago]. I attended a few church services and I had to leave because not even sanitising stations are put in place, nobody wearing masks. And that is from a church point of view; so you imagine when you go to the entertainment [venues] what is going to take place?”
Yesterday during a press conference to brief the country on the new measures, Holness said his Administration's actions had largely been driven by a need to ensure that students would be able to get back in the classroom for face-to-face instruction in September.
Maryland All-Age School Principal Andria Dehaney-Grant, who is also the deputy mayor of Lucea, said she was on board with “whatever it takes” to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“All of us have to work together to ensure that we can get the country to a place where we want to get it back to,” she said.
Online learning, she added, has worked for some of her peers while others are eager to get back in the classroom with their students.
She stressed the need for everyone to observe the safety protocols so that the infection numbers can go down despite the possibility of a new variant.
“It is very worrying for me each time you hear the numbers going up, and you hear people dying every day. Everybody lives in the country and none of us can say that we won't catch it and it won't kill us. So we have to ensure that we play our part as a society by wearing our masks, observing the curfew hours and are within the gathering limits,” Dehaney-Grant said.
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