Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that stronger COVID-19 measures would be coming as he made his contribution to the budget debate on Thursday (March 18).
Holness said the new measures will not only protect the healthcare system but would protect the economy in the long term.
“The current set of measures expire on the 22nd of this month. With hospitalization numbers continuing to exceed capacity, daily positivity rate in the range of 30%. And our estimated infection reproduction rates continuing above 1. I will be announcing a new set of stronger measures designed to protect our healthcare system and save lives which eventually protects and preserve our economy and livelihoods in the longer term,” said Holness.
Holness went on to state that the Ministry of Local Government had today tabled amendments to the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) which will enable stiffer penalty’s for those who flout COVID-19 measures and would fast track the ticketing system.
“Today, The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development tabled amendments to the Disaster
Risk Management Act as promised to implement the new ticketing system for enforcement of the infection prevention and control measures. The government is prepared to have the bill reviewed by a Joint Select Committee over the weekend and pass the bill next week. If the opposition is willing. This would mean the new measures would more effective, if we have this amendment in place,” added Holness.
While describing the skills necessary to manage the health crisis as similar to walking a tight rope, Holness defended his administration’s management of the pandemic as ” balanced” and evidence based.
“Managing the pandemic is like walking a tightrope, it requires balance. Balance through flexibility, focus and timing. To achieve this balanced outcome my government established consistent principles that we would follow in making decisions regarding the mix of measures that will be employed at any time. These principles are: 1 being evidence based, meaning that the government will not take knee jerk actions or act out of political expediency. This response must be rooted in evidence and science. 2.Being situationally appropriate, meaning we would not rely solely on generalized measures but we would also tailor measures to fit circumstances. For example, some schools by virtue of special circumstances could be reopened with low risk, then we would tailor measures around these circumstances,” said Holness.
” We meticulously went about crafting measures that we based on data and on scientific advice, tailored to situations and sufficient to mitigate risks. This allowed us to reopen churches in May 2020, followed by community bars, restaurants, horse racing and gaming. These reopenings were supported by progressively reduced curfew hours, moving from 6pm to 6am, the dusk till dawn curfew to the 11pm to 5 am curfew,” added Holness.