KINGSTON, Jamaica, August 20, 2021 - The dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Jamaica and the discovery of 22 cases of the deadly Delta variant islandwide, has prompted the government to institute a number of new measures including seven lockdown days in an effort to slow the rate of transmission islandwide.
Data from the Ministry of Health indicate that the number of COVID-19 cases has been averaging 500 a day, pushing the island's positivity rate to a staggering 41.9 percent and the rate of hospitalisation beyond the capacity of the health system to cope.
Addressing the nation on Thursday night, prime minister Andrew Holness announced seven no movement days in a bid to curb the latest surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Jamaica.
Those days are Sunday, August 22; Monday, August 23; Tuesday, August 24; Sunday, August 29; Monday, August 30; Tuesday, August 31; and Sunday, September 5.
Tightening of the curfews, which form part of the Government’s infection prevention and control measures, are also aimed at reducing hospitalisations and deaths.
He advised that the existing curfew hours will be adjusted on Friday (August 20) and Saturday (August 21) to allow persons adequate time to procure essential items ahead of the first lockdown period.
The curfew will begin at 9:00 p.m. on Friday and end at five o’clock on Saturday morning.
It will commence at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and continue throughout Sunday, August 22, Monday, August 23, and Tuesday, August 24, ending at 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 25.
Holness advised, however, that the curfews would revert to the hours of 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. on the weekdays and 6:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. on the Saturdays following the no movement days.
The Prime Minister said as part of efforts to also allow persons to prepare for the three-day lockdowns, workplaces and businesses will be asked to close at midday on Friday, August 20 and Friday, August 27.
Mr. Holness informed that workplaces or businesses not required to close at midday on those days are the courts; establishments providing security, finance, transportation, and health services; the National Water Commission; Jamaica Public Service Company; gas stations; public works and sanitation entities; fire stations; supermarkets, wholesales, and stores; and restaurants and corner shops, among others.
Meanwhile, he said the vaccination programme will continue as certain sites will remain open during curfew hours and on no movement days.
The Prime Minister advised that persons with vaccination appointments will be allowed to fulfil these.
Mr. Holness said the police have been given clear instructions to enforce the restriction on movement during the designated periods.
He emphasised that instituting restrictions to prevent or slow further transmission of the virus “works if everyone cooperates”.
“I am [therefore] appealing for everyone to make these no movement days a success. If you don’t have to move during this period… stay home,” Mr. Holness urged.
Yesterday, the heads of two of the island's umbrella church groups, the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) and the Jamaica Evangelical Alliance (JEA), which represent thousands of worshippers, indicated a willingness to sacrifice face-to-face church services and submit to no-movement weekends to bring the surging number of novel coronavirus cases under control.