PM warns tighter restrictions if Jamaica records spike in COVID-19 cases

June 01, 2020
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jun 1, CMC – Prime Minister Andrew Holness, says tighter restrictions will be re-imposed if there is a spike in the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases as a result of the further relaxation of the existing preventative measures, beginning today.

On Sunday, the government announced the re-opening of the country’s ports for entry for the repatriation of Jamaicans on Monday and to international travellers on June 15.

Holness said that while Jamaica has recorded 586 cases of the virus as at Sunday “we must continue to protect lives while securing our livelihoods.

“As of [June 1], we are moving towards a broader opening of our economy. I cannot over-emphasize that we need to do this in a safe way. Our response to the pandemic will continue to be measured, proportionate, evidence-based and situationally appropriate,” he told a digital press conference on Sunday.

Holness said Jamaica is now approaching the 20-day doubling curve of COVID-19 cases, with further slowing anticipated.

“It is encouraging that our doubling rate has slowed and the curve is flattening. This has bought us time, as we have had a smaller fraction of our population infected and, therefore, our health care system has not been overwhelmed,” he told reporters.

“We must maintain the measures that we have in place and continue to act responsibly in order to continue to have a flatter curve,” Holness said, noting it is imperative that further steps be taken towards the full reopening of the economy, as will be the case beginning June 1.

He said that the Jamaican economy, like most countries globally, has suffered a severe setback as a result of the pandemic.

“The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) recently reported an [estimated] decline of 1.7 per cent in real gross domestic product (GDP) for [the] quarter ending March 2020, and has projected a decline of 12 to 14 per cent for the April to June quarter and four to six per cent for the fiscal year 2020/21 overall,” Holness said.

Holness said this represents the most significant economic decline Jamaica has recorded in over four decades and, as such, it is key that the full resumption of economic activities be facilitated.

Holness told reporters that the hours of the nightly curfews for the period between June 1 and 30 will continue.

“The [existing timeline for the] night to early morning curfews will continue, starting 9:00 p.m. tonight (May 31) to 5:00 am tomorrow (June 1) morning, [and run] day-to-day until 5:00 a.m. June 14, 2020,” he said, adding that from June 14, the curfew will be adjusted to run from 10:00 p.m. through to 5:00 a.m. the following day, with the new timeline expiring at until 5:00 a.m. on June 30.

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