Port Maria mayor unhappy with COVID-19 behaviour
CREARY...I am definitely not satisfied. I think we have been somewhat fortunate here in St Mary (Photo: Joseph Wellington)
Creary puts it down to either fatigue or complete disregard

It's either fatigue or complete disregard, mayor of Port Maria, Councillor Richard Creary said of the behaviour of residents of St Mary in recent times.

Creary has expressed that he is disgruntled by the reduced level of compliance to protocols he has been seeing in the parish, while the country continues to bleed more COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Secret, illegal parties are trending upward in the parish, Creary said, and this may be a recipe for disaster amid the current surge in cases if not controlled.

“That is one of the things that, although there is a ban on events and we have issued no permits from perhaps March last year, you still find persons keeping these events…keeping them during the day or keeping them in very remote areas until hours of the morning,” Creary told the Jamaica Observer.

“The police are aware. They have been clamping down on some of these events, but the persons get more creative in terms of the locations they keep them. And the police force is limited in terms of numbers, so it is a little difficult for them to reach everywhere. But we must continue to appeal to the citizens, to be a little more responsible.”

Last August, Creary had contracted COVID-19. He made the announcement in a statement, in which he said he had mild symptoms and was isolated at home.

On Thursday, Jamaica recorded its highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in a single day – seven. And a total of 20, 581 cases has been amassed. Of that number, 391 people have died, 271 hospitalised and 18 were in critical condition.

In just three days, head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Corporate Communications Unit (CCU), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Stephanie Lindsay, said the JCF received over 130 tips about parties and events being held in breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), after the unit appealed to the public to report such on December 11, 2020.

Addressing the House of Representatives last December, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie said promoters were using social media to advertise their events to evade police attention. At that time, he said some 300 illegal parties and events were being held across the country each week.

Creary, having identified that nightlife is far more active than expected in his jurisdiction, said he was concerned.

“I am definitely not satisfied. I think we have been somewhat fortunate here in St Mary. Before this spike came, I spoke at the January council meeting because I was seeing some trends in the parish and heard of a number of cases. And I pointed out at that time that we should be very careful in St Mary that we would not see a situation like what happened in Westmoreland or Manchester where there was a spike.

“Some persons took that to mean that there was an imminent lockdown, and I got calls from people saying, 'I hear you saying you going lock down.' I said no, there's no lockdown. What I'm doing is trying to warn persons so we do not get to that stage. I guess that warning reached to some persons, but I am still not satisfied,” Creary stated.

Citing the residents' reaction to the virus last year, Creary reasoned that something has changed.

“If you look around, I think now, you have less persons wearing masks than probably six months ago, four months ago. Whether it's fatigue or they have just dropped regard, I don't see the protocols being adhered to as much as they used to be.

“And it's not for a lack of information, because the information is out there. It's either fatigue or people just can't bother. And there are still those who are of the view that, 'I can't catch COVID, and if I even catch it, it isn't going to affect me.' We keep pointing out that whereas a young, strong person might not be affected severely, but you go home to your parent or grandparent who has co-morbid conditions and then there's a death in the family,” he said.

Lest they have become too lax, Creary said he uses every opportunity to remind his residents about what is at stake with the deadly virus that has claimed almost 400 lives locally.

“I try to appeal to persons to be a lot more careful, be a lot more vigilant in terms of the social distancing, the wearing of the masks and the sanitising. We are in a spike now, hence the reason for tighter curfew restrictions. Let us try and be more responsible. Let us bring the numbers down, and we would see those curfew hours being a little more relaxed so that we can have more commercial activities taking place. Whenever there are curfew restrictions, it affects commercial activities and that tends to affect a lot of stories,” Creary said.

BY ROMARDO LYONS Staff reporter lyonsr@jamaicaobserver.com

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