Over 30 sanctioned for not wearing masks in Mandeville

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The police in this south-central town have reiterated that they will not hesitate to prosecute anyone for breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) as the number of people they have now sanctioned for not wearing masks in public climbed to more than 30 between Wednesday and yesterday.

“We have utilised the better part of the year to educate and empower our citizens about the importance of obeying the DRMA. However, the police in Manchester remain committed to support the Ministry of Health and Wellness in flattening the curve to ensure that this pandemic is brought under control,” Superintendent Gary Francis, head of the Manchester police, told the monthly sitting of the municipal corporation yesterday.

“In the last two months we have intensified prosecutions and to date we have prosecuted in excess of 160 people for various breaches of the DRMA. Just yesterday (Wednesday) alone we prosecuted some 50 people,” he added.

Among those prosecuted are 15 people who were arrested at an illegal party in the New Green area on Wednesday.

Francis also disclosed that another 15 people were last Friday arrested at a day rave in the community of Belritiro, south of Mandeville.

“Despite the education and the warning people still seem to be careless about what will happen, so we will continue to prosecute. The commissioner of police has given us a vehicle that I can use to transport people who are in custody,” he said.

“I will christen that vehicle for anybody who believes that they want to challenge the State in breaching the law, because we are that serious about it. Our commitment remains unwavering in executing the Act,” he added.

Francis told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that following Wednesday’s arrests more people have been complying with the mask-wearing protocol in the town centre.

“The compliance rate has significantly improved. We have a bus here and it is fitted with cushioned seats, so we can actually have you travel in style,” he said.

A vendor, who identified himself as Sony, told the Observer that despite him selling five masks for $100, some people are neglecting to wear them.

Meanwhile, medical officer of health Dr Nadine Williams said the number of active cases in the parish has dramatically declined.

“At this time we have 63 active cases, compared to 313 a month ago. So you can see the dramatic decline in the number of active cases that we have in the parish,” she said.

“In hospital now we currently have nine cases of confirmed COVID patients in isolation. Last month we reported a total of 35,” she added.

Manchester has two hospitals Mandeville Regional and Percy Junor.

Dr Williams warned that despite the decline people must continue to adhere to the protocols.

Meanwhile, Francis said the police are maintaining a balance in fighting crime enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols.

He said Manchester has recorded reductions in four of the seven categories of major crimes. Murder is down by 29 per cent; shootings are down 21 per cent; break-ins are down 14 per cent; and aggravated assault is down by 31 per cent.

Robberies, though, continue to be of great concern to the Manchester police.

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