KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica government Tuesday announced reduced hours for the curfew as it moves to re-open the entertainment industry hard hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, told Parliament that effective July 1, the curfew hours will begin 11:00 pm (local time) Mondays to Saturdays and 6:00 pm on Sundays, ending at 5:00 am the following day. He said this will continue until August 11.
“We believe, Madam Speaker, that this will allow almost full return in terms of business capacity to the quick service industries, and it will start the phasing in of entertainment,” Holness told legislators, adding that the entertainment sector will have to be reset to operate within the new hours.
He said that beaches, rovers, zoos, water parks and attractions will open from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Saturdays and from 6.00 to 5.00 pm on Sundays given the change in curfew hours.
“In crafting the approach to events and entertainment, we have paid careful attention to reducing and mitigating the risk on the one hand, while optimizing the social and economic benefits of a phased resumption of the other,” Holness said, adding that the ministries of health and wellness, local government and culture, gender, entertainment and sport, had been working together to develop the new protocols.
Holness said that small events will generally include outdoor concerts, parties, round robins, festivals, community events or ground breaking ceremonies and that the organizers of these small events “may make applications for permits as they normally would through their local authorities, who will work with them to ensure protocols are in place for a safe event”.
He said that a small event outdoor may have up to 100 people.
Holness also announced that effective June 24, the authorities will modify the order for churches from the 50-person attendance limit to a capacity based limit depending on the size of the designated area for worship.
He said churches can operate with 70 per cent of its capacity, calculated for one person for every 40 square feet.
“I think 30 is a reasonable number. We will have ODPEM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management) doing spot checks to see how it is being followed.
“As I said earlier, some Churches have 200 people there and they say ‘we’ll compensate by ensuring everybody wear masks’, nothing like that. Please observe the protocols,” Holness said.
He noted that for burials, the maximum number of people who may be present at the graveside has been increased from 15 to 30 and this would include mourners as well as officiating clergy, grave diggers and undertakers.
Burials are permitted only from Mondays to Fridays, however, as of July 1 burials can be done between 9:00 am and 5:00 am.
But Prime Minister Holness said protocols must continue to be observed, including temperature checks, mask wearing, gathering limits and social distancing.
Likewise, indoor theatres and cinemas will be allowed to open with the same measure but will be calculated based on one person for every 40 square feet or 70 per cent of seating capacity.
Drive-in cinemas will require maximum of individuals in any vehicle to not exceed the number permitted under what is registered for the vehicle.
But Prime Minister Holness said a spike over the summer due to entertainment activities could impact the resumption of face-to-face classes later this year.
Holness also announced that as of July 1, fully vaccinated people will no longer have to quarantine He said fully vaccinated people now have the option of taking an approved PCR test and upon presentation of negative results, they can be released from the quarantine order.
“This is to recognize the lower risk posed by fully vaccinated persons. I must caution, however, that while the risk is reduced, there is still a risk that fully vaccinated persons may be carriers of the virus and be able to transmit it to non-vaccinated persons.
“Maintaining this quarantine is particularly important so that we can control spread of variant strains that may be acquired from travel,” Prime Minister GHolness said, adding “we therefore strongly encourage everyone including those who are fully vaccinated to wear their masks”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Holness said the work-from-home measures will remain in place until the country has secured enough vaccines to resume in-person operations.
The age limit for the stay-at-home measure remains at 60 until August 10, 20021. However, persons who are fully vaccinated have been exempted from this,” Holness said, adding “only persons who work in critical delivery and perform job functions that require them to be at the physical location should be required to be at the office.
Holness said that foe the private sector, the government is continuing to encourage employers to allow persons who can work from home to do so.