MoBay Chamber rues weekday lockdownsSaturday, August 21, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Members of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) are voicing their disapproval of aspects of the latest COVID-19 restrictions announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to stem the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
In the wake of a recent spike in the number of COVID-19 infections the prime minister announced seven no-movement days in an effort to temper the spread of the respiratory disease.
But, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer last night, MBCCI President Janet Silvera argued that, although the membership of the chamber is not averse to restrictions, they object to lockdowns during the week.
“We are not in disagreement with restrictions; however, I am not sure that we should be doing these lockdowns during the week. I think if we were going to do no lockdowns at all it should have been during the holiday period. And I also think it is a bit late for us to be doing this now,” she argued.
Another bone of contention for the Montego Bay business community is the announced 12:00 noon closure of offices on Fridays to allow staff members to stock up on items.
Silvera underscored the irony of allowing the large convergence of shoppers, which could lead to the spreading of the virus.
“I don't see the need to close the businesses at noon to allow people to shop. If you are already extending the curfew hours, let people shop normally. Do not create a panic. It almost feels like we are inviting more COVID cases, rather than trying to curtail it,” she told the Observer.
“Personally, with the amount of traffic, and the fact that everyone is flocking the supermarket, it's really crazy. I am not a fan of taking away main working days for a complete lockdown, as businesses, we lose a lot. I really do not think this was thought out properly. Thumbs down, from my end, on this one for sure,“ Silvera added.
The MBCCI president also questioned the authorities for approving large parties and other entertainment events “when we didn't know if we had the very contagious Delta variant here at the time”.
“We do not appreciate being penalised for the clear misstep and misjudgement by the authorities who authorised parties and other events which caused a [large] number of persons to be in one place unmasked and having total disregard for the protocols put in place by the said authorities,” Silvera said.
The MBCCI president rued the lockdown which she said was caused by irresponsible behaviour that now threatens the livelihood of business operators just as they were rebounding.
“Just as it seems like we were getting our groove back in business, then this,” she bemoaned.
In the meantime, Silvera conceded that the restrictions are important to alleviate the pressure on the hospitals and called for everyone to get vaccinated.
“We know it [restriction] is necessary to loosen the load on the hospitals. And vaccinations are a must, and people need to get vaccinated now that supplies are coming in,” she appealed.
“In addition, those who can't leave their homes because of the lockdowns should come to their senses and realise the importance of the vaccines,” charged Silvera.