Jamaicans celebrate relaxation of no-movement days

RICHARD Pandohie, immediate past president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), is celebrating the relaxation of weekly lockdown days by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer Thursday, Pandohie said the last three weeks had been extremely difficult for manufacturers and the nation, and that the ease in restrictions will give many struggling small businesses a chance to regain their footing.

On August 19, Holness announced seven days of no-movement that the general public was mandated to observe in an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. These days were Sunday, August 22; Monday, August 23; Tuesday, August 24; Sunday, August 29; Monday, August 30; Tuesday, August 31; and Sunday, September 5.

The prime minster then extended the no-movement days to Monday, September 6; Tuesday, September 7; Sunday, September 12; Monday, September 13; and Tuesday, September 14.

Easing the frustration caused by the lockdowns, Holness said the measure would be removed, effective today, and will be replaced with daily curfews from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am, Mondays to Fridays and from 6:00 pm on Saturdays to Mondays at 5:00 am. Sundays alone will be no-movement days.

According to Pandohie, “The smaller businesses were suffering. Their cash flow is decimated. Businesses can’t operate (like that) and still exist. It is just not possible, so I think that will help businesses to get back and try to atleast keep afloat or reduce the level of their losses”.

Pandohie continued: “What was more concern to me was that the days that were movement days were so jam-packed and everybody just bundled everywhere. It was very difficult to understand the objective because it seemed as if you lock down and restrict and then you create this environment where people were then forced to congregate in huge crowds just to get things done.”

The Jamaica Observer visited business establishments in downtown and other parts of Kingston to get feedback from workers and the general public on the relaxation of the lockdown measures. Most of those interviewed expressed satisfaction and indicated that the decision of the new measures will better suit them and their families financially.

Hoshini Morris, a taximan who operates from downtown Kingston to Bull Bay in St Thomas, said he loves “how the PM lift the no-movement days because persons weren’t seeing any money”.

He said, ”the new measure is something the people can work with” and one that will allow people to “survive and feel better”.

Farmer and vendor Daumali Smallwood, who journeyed to Kingston from St Thomas to sell breadfruit and other produve he reaped from his farm, said that the relaxation of the no-movement days and curfew hours will benefit the poorer class of Jamaicans who had been struggling.

“The relaxation will benefit us and mi appreciate it. The poorer class of people were affected during the lockdowns and if you look pon di other side, di rich class a benefit from tourism in almost the same way and it is like nothing nuh really change for them,” he stated.

Downtown Kingston vendor of escallion, onions and other items, David Rodney, told the Observer that he plans to make good use of the curfew relaxation.

“Mi feel likkle better because we can do we thing and enjoy miself,” he said.

One of his customers, Stacy Foster said she anticipates the benefits that the changes will bring to herself and family.

“Mi feel good because mi free from the prison. Him lock we down and him naa give we a dollar and him naa send no food to the people so wah him lef we fi do? We have rent, light bill, Internet and all of those things and we have children.”

One woman, who gave her name as Latifa Wheeler, suggested that the prime minister could have implemented a 2:00 pm curfew on Sunday, to facilitate churchgoers.


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