Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Leeroy Williams, says the decision to cancel Grand Market this year is aimed at protecting residents of the parish against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
He said with the knowledge of the risk to health that the virus presents he “could not in good conscience endanger the lives of residents” by staging the traditional Christmas Eve shopping event.
“The COVID-19 virus is deadly and has already taken the lives of too many persons here in St. James. It is for this very reason why activities in this parish have been somewhat curtailed,” he noted, at the recent monthly meeting of the St. James Municipal Corporation held at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre.
“I will not be encouraging, entertaining or permitting a gathering of large crowds that could possibly cause a spread of the deadly coronavirus. Therefore, there will absolutely be no Grand Market for Montego Bay,” he stressed.
Mayor Williams said he has met with the vendors “in a spirit of goodwill” to ask for their cooperation. He said he had reiterated to them that the vending hours will remain between 1:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. with the extra hour allotted for packing up and clearing the streets before the 10:00 p.m. curfew.
He said that the municipality has also carefully laid out the designated vending areas, noting that there will be no vending allowed on the popular St. James Street.
“So that is eight hours for vending… enough time to do business,” Mayor Williams said.
“I will, however, give concession to the vending hours on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s day when they (vendors) can come out at 10:00 a.m. The reason being that the curfew hours on those days are from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 am.”