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‘A step in the right direction’


MANDEVILLE, Manchester – Business stakeholders in this south-central town have welcomed Tuesday’s announcement of relaxed COVID-19 measures announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Kenisha Dwyer-Powell, president of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce; Lyden “Trevor” Heaven, chairman of FESCO; and Peter Campbell, managing director at Golfview Hotel yesterday told the Jamaica Observer that they are relieved and looking forward to growth in the economy.

“Excited, elated, hopeful, and totally grateful is how we are feeling at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, given the reduced curfew hours and, by extension, the extended business hours. It has been a while in coming, but we really appreciate it. We know that we are not where we need to be in terms of the COVID-19 virus, us seeing the back of it, or even the vaccination process, but this is a step in the right direction,” said Dwyer-Powell.

Effective July 1, 2021 curfew hours will begin 11:00 pm on Mondays to Saturdays and 6:00 pm on Sundays, ending at 5:00 am the following day. This will continue until August 11, 2021.

Dwyer-Powell said, “Businesses can start to enjoy the opportunity to earn more, which eventually goes back into the economy, circulates, and we will see growth.”

She underscored that parties and social gatherings, some of which were held in contravention of lockdown measures, which have now been given the green light are “big earners”.

“As it relates to parties and social gatherings, we know that even before this announcement they were happening one off, here and there you had those happening, but if we even go back to pre-COVID those were big earners for the economy,” she said.

“Money circulates, so whilst that sector earns it, the money is spent in another sector, development happens right across, so we welcome that… We are looking forward to even greater growth in the coming months,” added Dwyer-Powell.

She encouraged business operators to maintain the observance of COVID-19 protocols.

Heaven said the relaxation is a welcomed relief for business owners who have been struggling.

“For 15 months we have been having this challenge of almost a total lockdown of the economy, restrictions in movement and so on. A lot of people have lost their jobs and that kind of thing. The prime minister’s announcement of shortened curfew hours clearly lends itself to an upturn in business, which as business owners we welcome, because a lot of us are actually struggling to take care of our bills,” said Heaven, even as he expressed concern about the country’s low vaccination rate.

“I welcome the measures and I look forward to a return of what we consider to be normal, but I must also take note of the fact that the vaccination rate in Jamaica is of a major concern to me personally and I think it should be to all of us.

“Our vaccination rate is meagre of where we ought to be, which is upwards of 50 per cent, so I don’t believe that with the vaccinations that we have had so far that we are in a position where we can say that we have some level of immunity from this dreaded disease, especially this new Delta variant that is coming on board now. I am just weary of the fact that we would probably be going backwards in terms of controlling the virus and the pandemic that has affected us so badly, but from a business perspective we certainly welcome the measures that the prime minister announced,” added Heaven.

Campbell said, while he appreciates the relaxed measures from the Government, he wants more clarity on the parameters.

“It is to some degree unclear as to what can be done and what cannot be done. I think more details are required so the persons on the ground know exactly the parameters in which to operate but, again, this is a big kudos to the Government for its stand and approach,” declared Campbell.

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