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Jamaica public sector to work from home among the new restrictive measures to combat the rise of COVID-19 islandwide

KINGSTON, Jamaica – On Sunday in a press briefing, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced a whole barrage of new containment measures for the next three week as the COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the country.

These include:

1. The countrywide curfew remains at 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily until March 22.

2. Zoos, parks, gyms, attractions and bars will close at 6:00 p.m.

3. Starting March 4, there must be a work from home arrangement in the public sector. Only employees who work in critical service delivery should be in the physical office locations.

4. Students who will sit exit examinations and those with special needs are the only ones to receive face-to-face instruction. This includes private schools. Meanwhile, nurseries and day care centres are considered critical services and are to be kept open.

5. The private sector is encouraged to facilitate their staff working from home.

6. Where a member of staff has comorbidities, or has to take care of someone who is ill or otherwise challenged, that person should be allowed to work from home. This applies to both the public and private sector.

7. The public gathering limit will remain at 10 people.

8. In the public sector, no social events or ceremonies, unless virtual, are allowed to take place.

9. Jamaicans coming home from abroad will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test, conducted within 72 hours prior to their travel date, at the check-in to their flights. Accepted test types are PCR test, Nucleic Acid Amplification test (NAA), RNA or molecular test and Antigen test. Antibody tests will not be accepted and home-based test kits will not be accepted.

10. Business travellers, who were previously funded by the Government, will now be required to pay for their own PCR tests.

10. Flights coming directly from the United Kingdom continue to be restricted.

11. Effective March 8, funerals and burials will be prohibited. No burial orders will be issued. However funerals that were already scheduled up to March 7 may go ahead under the current protocols.

12. Churches are to engage in online services only. A total of 10 members are permitted within the church space to manage the online programme including the clergy.

13. Weddings are allowed with a cap of 25 people, including the bride, groom, pastor and the two witnesses.

14. Public beaches are to be closed.

15. The age has been adjusted from 65 to 60 years, for individuals required to stay at home.

Prime Minister Holness said his strategy for only 10 persons gathering is to reduce the probability of infections in Jamaica.

He explained that the Government has utilised two triggers for action, “taking strict action before when there was an increase in numbers, and now, using the second trigger, because the country is seeing an increase in the number of symptomatic persons requiring hospital care.”

“This is a critical trigger and we have to shift policy efforts to ensuring that we can preserve every Jamaican’s life,” Holness said.

“Once the capacity of the health system becomes threatened, we could see a spike not only in the number infected, but also in those dying from the disease — this is therefore the critical fulcrum.”

Jamaica is yet to receive any COVID-19 vaccines. Holness said that the COVAX Facility will be supplying Jamaica with vaccines but they have to wait in line to get their share of the vaccine. Priority will be given first to vulnerable persons upon arrival of the vaccines.

Jamaica currently has 9,431 active cases and 422 deaths from the virus as of Sunday, February 28, 2021 report.

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