Crawford suggests staggered work hours to fight COVID-19

The Government is being urged to work with the private sector to arrange a staggering of work hours across Jamaica as one measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Opposition Senator Damion Crawford made the call recently during an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

Crawford pointed to data which show that at least 20 per cent of the people who have contracted the virus in Jamaica said they were infected while using public transportation.

The Government has mandated a reduction in the number of people carried by each public passenger vehicle and the wearing of a mask through the entire trip. But Crawford is adamant that more can be done.

“One proposal I would like to make to the prime minister, especially as it relates to the transportation sector, is that we look at asking the PSOJ (Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica) and the JMEA (Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association)… to stagger starting times for their businesses. If they stagger starting times for their businesses, then it means that their staff would be travelling at different times,” said Crawford.

“Without staggered starting times for our businesses we find that all staff are travelling at the same time, causing a crowding at the bus stops and on transportation for only two hours twice per day. So when you really look between seven and nine [each morning] there is a crowding of the bus stops… and between four and six [each evening] there is a crowding of the bus stops.

“So, a more effective strategy, I believe, would be to speak to us as the private sector and for those who are not necessarily retail, we could stagger our start times,” added Crawford.

He noted that this could have implication for the start of the 8:00 pm curfew on weekdays but argued that adjustments could be made for people who might be leaving work at that hour.

The Opposition senator also renewed his call for the implementation of a system where people could use an app or a similar method to make appointments to shop in supermarkets, or visit tax offices and similar facilities to reduce crowding and the possible spreading of COVID-19.

“So, instead of going to a tax office and standing in a line for 15, 20, 30 minutes before I can get through, I would know that only 40 people will be able to reserve 10:00 am to 10:30 am on a Tuesday and therefore if that is already booked I would have to choose a Wednesday or a Friday,” said Crawford.

He is also urging Prime Minister Andrew Holness to initiate discussions with some major entities which recently indicated that they will be closing some of their branches. According to Crawford, Holness should ask then to defer the closure of these branches as it could lead to overcrowding in the ones which remain open.

— Arthur Hall

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