With COVID-19 cases on the rise again in Jamaica, signaling the start of a third wave of the virus, Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Monday tightened the COVID-19 restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.
Since last week, the island has been reporting an average of 135 new cases per day. Some 1,318 new cases have already been recorded for the month of July.
Addressing the nation on Monday, Holness said, based on the rapid increase in infections, it was clear that the Government “needs to act now”, especially given plans to reopen schools for face-to-face instruction in September.
“What we have done is to bring forward some of the measures that we had planned to put in right after the Independence period, because of how fast the upturn in numbers was taking place,” explained Holness at the press conference.
“So, these are really preliminary measures. Come the 11th (of August), we will have to take even tighter measures to ensure that we do not see a massive spike,” he declared.
According to Holness, the new measures will apply for the two-week period from Tuesday, July 27, to August 10, 2021.
He announced that effective Tuesday, July 27, the nightly curfew hours will run from 8 pm to 5 am from Mondays to Saturdays. On Sundays and public holidays, the curfew will run from 3 pm to 5 am the following day.
For the holiday period, the curfew will run from 3 pm to 5 am on Emancipation Day, Sunday, August 1, as well as Monday, August 2, when the holiday will actually be celebrated. For Independence Day, Tuesday, August 6, the curfew will begin at 3 pm to 5 am.
In relation to breaches and rivers, the new operating hours are Mondays to Saturdays from 6 am to 4 pm, and on Sundays and public holidays from 6 am to 2 pm.
For the capacity of events, Holness said that “Under the measures that came into effect on July 1, a number of establishments were subject to a 70 percent capacity limit. Effective, Tuesday, July 27, the 70 percent capacity limit that applies to these establishments will be reduced to 50 percent.”
The existing limit for small events is also being reduced, as effective Tuesday, July 27, the capacity limit for these events will be reduced to 50 percent.
“Therefore, the number of persons permitted at a small event will be 100 persons or 50 percent of the venue capacity, whichever is lower,” the prime minister indicated.
The new measures come barely a month after the government reopened the entertainment industry and introduced an 11 PM curfew, giving Jamaicans more freedom. Prime Minister Holness said it was not necessarily the events that were causing the uptick in cases, but rather the indiscipline of Jamaicans.
“What is driving the spread is indiscipline, complacency, and a lack of diligence in observing the protocols,” said the prime minister.
He warned that if the cases show no sign of decreasing, the Government might introduce even tighter measures on August 11.